BATES - AUSTIN, OREGON
A BRIEF HISTORY
(Plus precious treasured memories of those who lived there)
IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: 2016 ALL-CLASSES BATES SCHOOL REUNION
email posts, scroll down the page quite a ways. They are listed by date.
BATES - AUSTIN REMEMBERED
Click on the red
unlined title directly above
to read recorded memories from the book published in 1997 by Sonja and Gary
taken in 1957 by Albert Stone and his daughter Louise Stone Labaugh)
(Click on photos to enlarge)
Click on the link directly below for easy
access to Dr. Mick Watterson's Bates/Austin/Grant County PHOTO website:
Bates-Austin/Grant County Area Photo
Bates Park In The News - October 9, 2011
(Courtesy of Len Cardwell)
Two aerial photos taken of the new Bates Park in
September 2011, provided by Linda Raines
Click on the
photos below to enlarge. They were taken in late June, 2008. The
photo of Clear Creek is taken off the bridge. Billie Joe (Raines) George
says her mother, Teresa, planted the gorgeous yellow roses in photo on
right. - (Norm)
Austin from the highway Clear Creek - Former
Location Of Bates
Telephone Shed - Raines' Roses
VIDEO FOOTAGE OF THE BATES - AUSTIN - GRANT COUNTY,
OREGON AREA YOU MAY BE
INTERESTED IN SEEING
has been doing historical research on various topics of Eastern Oregon over
the years, and he has compiled some valuable facts of the old Austin
Cemetery. To check out his findings, you can click on the following link:
BATES- AUSTIN HISTORY
The Sumpter Valley Railroad arrived in Austin
during 1905. In the beginning, the rails stopped at the former stagecoach
stop of Austin Station. A large sawmill owned by Oregon Lumber Company
was built beside the tracks at Austin. This mill was in operation during
the decade preceding World War I. The passenger trains from Baker stopped
at the Austin House (Austin Station) for lunch which “Ma” Austin
served at her board house. The means were served “family style” in ample
From Austin, the Oregon Lumber Company laid their own
tracks into the timber and brought logs to the big double-sided mill.
Austin was quite a town in its day, with several
saloons, stores and even a jail. The buildings had false fronts (there was
still one these false fronted buildings standing as late as 1997). It
boasted a board sidewalk also. The railroad facilities included a
four-stall engine house, yard trackage and a water tank.
There was a mill called the Eccles Mill near
Austin. This mill was owned and operated by Bill Eccles, a brother to David
Eccles, owner of Oregon Lumber Company. (NOTE: Anyone interested
in learning more about David Eccles and his lumbering operations, you can
click on the following link:
David Eccles Lumbering History. Thanks goes to Gregg Smith for discovering
this achieved newspaper article and bringing it to our attention).
The town of Austin was started by a man named Newton.
In the late 1800’s Minot and Linda Austin arrived and purchased the town
site, and renamed it Austin. Minot ran a stage line between Sumpter and
Canyon City. Linda ran the general store, hotel and boarding house. At one
time Austin boasted a population of approximately 500 people. * (NOTE:
See footnote below; this paragraph may not be entirely accurate).
In about 1917 the Oregon Lumber Company built a
new double-sided sawmill about a mile down the Middle Fork of the John Day
River from Austin. A company owned town was built for the mill workers and
was named Batesville. Later the name was shortened to Bates. This mill
remained in full operation until October 1975, when a new mill was put into
operation in John Day by Edward Hines Lumber Company, the owners at that
The Oregon Lumber Company built a large while
hotel at the side of the track close to the mill. There was a dance hall
near the hotel, (later a truck barn was built on the sight of the dance
hall, after it had burned down), where many dances were attended by all.
Oregon Lumber Company built logging tracks down the Middle Fork and had
branches up the draws and creeks to supply logs to the new mill. The lumber
was then shipped on the Sumpter Valley Railroad to Baker. The rails were
pulled in the late 1940’s. At this time off-highway logging trucks began
hauling logs in to the mill. They had 12 foot wide bunks and were stacked
close to 20 feet from the ground.
There were other sawmills in the area which were the
Baker White Pine mill on Crawford Creek, the Stoddard Brothers Lumber
Company, later becoming Stoddard Lumber Company, did a lot of logging in the
local area, hauling logs on their own trains in to their mill in Baker.
Just west of Austin Junction are the remains of a mill
called the Cavenaugh mill, besides Bridge Creek. A small mill pond is still
visible. This mill was built in 1929, but never sawed a board. The
Depression struck and construction was halted.
Bates was tucked into one of the loveliest valleys in
Grant County in Eastern Oregon. It was surrounded by prime timber, with
Dixie Butte (elevation 7592 feet above sea level) towering over the town.
Today – Bates along with its saw mill, its railroad and all of the people
who once lived there– now only exist as memories and faces in old photos of
the former residents.
The technique of logging in the beginning at Austin and
Bates was simple. It involved a lot of hard, physical labor. In those days
of the early 1900’s most types of work did involve hard, physical labor.
A crew was sent out to construct the railroad grade,
for the tracks to be laid on. The main line of Eccles narrow gauge railroad
followed the Middle Fork of the John Day River from Bates, eventually going
as afar as Camp Creek. All the tracks except the main line was temporary
track. As the crew went out and built the grade, another crew followed
behind laying track. These temporary branch lines went out into the canyons
where the logging was taking place.
The lumber camps came along with the railroad. The
cook shack and dining room were built on railroad cars, as were many of the
dwellings (boxcar houses) the men and their families lived in.
When an area was logged out, the lumber camp was
dismantled. Much of it was loaded onto the flat cars, the track was taken
up behind the train and the work proceeded to another area of the forest.
In the beginning, until the dry kilns were built, the
lumber produced at the Bates mill was loaded green onto flat cars and hauled
to Baker, where it was dried in the kilns at the Oregon Lumber Company mill
Over the years as the industry progressed, much of the
work done by the railroad was gradually replaced by trucks that hauled the
logs. By 1935 there were quite a few trucks in use. The trucks hauled more
and more and the railroad less and less, until about 1946 and 1947 the last
rails were pulled up. That’s when the dry kilns were built.
Over the years the population of Bates was between a
few hundred to as many as 400. As machines replaced men the population
dwindled. At one time there were approximately 125 kids in the Bates
Bates was a close-knit community. Those who lived
there were like one big family. It was a great place to raise kids.
Everybody watched out for the kids. To those who lived at Bates, it was a
special place and a special time in their lives.
The past Bates residents hold a Bates Reunion every two
years, in order to renew old friendships and reminisce about the “Good Ole
Days in Bates.” Those days may be gone, but none of the people will ever
Note: Gregg Smith is a historian, and he emailed me the following
information on 11-30-2008. Much appreciated:
Some time ago I read
and "filed" some old Grant County deeds and property records. If I
can find my copies I will send them to you to post. Or, if someone
else is interested, they can find them at the Grant County
What I remember was
that Minot Austin was Mrs. Newton's son. Mr. Newton must have
been her second husband, having been previously married to a man
named Austin. The old maps of the area show the site of Austin as
It appears that Mr.
Newton died and the property passed to Mrs. Newton. She then
willed the property to Minot. If I recall, she had other children,
whom she each willed $1.00. So - there must have been some hard
feelings. When Mrs. Newton died, Minot inherited the Newton
property. He was married to Linda and they then renamed the
At some point
Minot joined with some other investors to pursue a business
venture. Gold mining perhaps? Minot secured a loan from a Baker
bank and mortgaged the Austin property as security for the
loan. The investment went sour and the bank foreclosed on the
mortgage. Then it appears that Minot left and Linda stayed behind.
She had a viable stage stop business and made a deal with the bank.
Over time she paid off the bank loan and took full possession of the
Now ... when I was a
kid working for Henry Ricco in the mid-1950s, Henry told me a story
told to him by 'Doc' Edwards -- Linda Austin's brother. Doc had
moved in with Linda to help her, but it was probably the other way
around. Doc was a terrible alcoholic. He 'borrowed' things from
Linda to buy his booze. Henry Ricco, who bought the Austin place
from 'Doc' Edwards after Linda died, found her wedding ring rolled
up in a sock inside a shoe in her bedroom. It was one thing Doc was
unable to "borrow."
In any case, Minot
apparently wrote Linda that he wanted to come back and would be on a
particular stage. Doc met Minot at the stage and pointed a pistol
at him. Doc said to Minot, paraphrasing, "If you step down from the
stage I'll shoot you dead." Minot wisely stayed on the stage and
moved off into history. Both Linda Austin and Doc Edwards are
buried at the Canyon City cemetery.
I spent a lot of time trying to find and get copies of old maps
of our country. Two maps in particular: In 1890, one map reads
that what is now Austin was then "Newton's." Two years
later, in 1892, the map reads "Newton's or Austin's."
So Mrs. Newton must have willed
the Newton property to Minot Austin around 1891 - plus or
minus. There would probably be records of the probate of Mrs.
Newton's will in the Grant County Courthouse. In fact, I'm sure
of it. Some time ago I read her will.
As a side point, the 1890 map
shows the stage lines in Baker and Grant County. The stage trip
from Baker to Canyon City covered 85 miles and cost $10.00. The
stage ran Monday through Saturday and left Baker at 1:30 p.m. I
don't know how fast it moved, and whether one team of horses
could cover the entire trip. Since the road was pretty steep
out of the Whitney valley and over Dixie Butte, I can't believe
they made more than 10 miles per hour average. That would have
put them in Canyon City at 9:30 p.m., I'm estimating? That
seems pretty late. I wonder whether they stopped overnight at
Newton's or Austin's and changed horses? Anyone know? --
Len Cardwell: Gregg - It was my understanding (Told to
me by my Dad, Arthur Cardwell) that the stage came as far as the
Austin House in one day. They stayed all night there in the
Hotel (Still standing behind the house; 2008). They changed
teams also. The teams were kept in the barn (Still standing)
and fresh ones used to go on the Prairie City.
Regarding the old Austin House: Did you
folks know that there was also a Turkey Farm at the Austin House
when Doc Edwards had the place?
That makes good
sense, Len. The stage road from Baker came up the Sumpter
Valley, and then over the hill to the Whitney Valley, then over
the hill (via Tipton) to the Austin House. Climbing up those
two hills must have been a hard on the horses. I can imagine
that everyone was happy to stay overnight at the Austin House -
and have a great meal at Mrs. Austin's dinning room.
Billie Joe George (Raines): Yep, Len, I knew about the
Turkey Farm, because that was one of my Dad's first jobs;
helping with the turkeys and splitting wood up on Greenhorn for
Sim Richards. Also did you guys know that when my Great Uncle
Vern Raines owned Hobbs Ranch it was a Dairy Farm. Dad used to
milk cows to.
Cardwell 02-16-2009: The railroad began
in Baker City in 1890. It followed the powder
River Through Bowen Valley to Salisbury (9 miles
south of Baker) and continued on to McEwen. In
1892 a major gold strike was found near Sumpter
and the railroad was extended the six miles to
Sumpter by 1896. In 1900 the track was laid
over Larch Summit, an altitude of 5094 feet, and
down the west side of Huckleberry Mountain. By
1901 the tracks reached Whitney, an Oregon
Lumber Company town. During 1903 the tracks
were extended across the Whitney Valley and up
Green Mountain pass to the Tipton Summit at 5127
feet. The rails reached Tipton in 1904. It
arrived at Austin in 1905. In 1909 the final
segment of railway (21 miles) south of Austin.
By June 1910 the tracks descended to Prairie
City. This completed the 80.1 miles from Baker
By 1937 passenger
service was discontinued and the last freight
train steamed into South Baker on 12 June 1947.
material came from "Sumpter Valley Railway
Mikados - a web page that was on-line 30 May
The following history was
contributed by Richard Lemmon on September 5, 2011.
I worked for the U.S. Forest Service at the old Blue Mountain
Ranger Station near Bates from 1945 to 1956. I thought the following
history might be of interest to some:
1) Forerunners of the Blue Mountain
district were the Austin and Susanville Ranger Districts. They were
established in 1907.
2) Ranger's headquarters for the Susanville
District was located at Sunshine Ranger Station that was abandoned in 1920.
3) Ranger's headquarters for the Austin
District was changed from Austin to Bates Ranger Station in 1931. The
change in location was from the Phipps Meadow area to the Austin Junction site.
In May 1933 the name was changed from Bates Ranger District to Blue Mountain
I cannot recall all of the names of the former
District Rangers. One of the earliest that I remember hearing of was Dan
Fisk. He was the Ranger for a considerable number of years. When I
went to work on the District in 1945, Harry Wolfe was Ranger. I believe
Jack Groom preceded him but beyond that I have no recollection. Lloyd
Gilmore succeeded Harry Wolfe in about 1949 or 1950. Alex Smith came in
about 1954. About 1958 Joe Gjertson was the Ranger until the District was
divided between Long Creek and Prairie City Districts.
The lookouts that were in operation on the
District were Dixie Butte, Vinegar Hill, Indian Rock, and Crocket Knob.
Also Baldy Mountain was administered by the District for a number of years
before being turned over to Prairie City.
The only developed campground was Dixie Forest
Camp near Highway 26 at Dixie Summit.
Most of the timer harvest on the District in the
1940's and 1950's was associated with the Oregon Lumber Company land exchange
with the Forest Service.
During the World War II years the Oregon Lumber
Company had a logging camp called Camp 2. It was located at Elkhorn Spring
at the headwaters of Dry Fork Clear Creek on road 2640. The company logged
the timber from the South Fork Burnt River drainage that was associated with the
aftermath of the Big Cow Burn of 1939. The timbers was hauled down Dry
Fork Clear Creek to the sawmill at Bates.
The only so called Guard Station was located at
Sunshine Guard Station. Incidentally, the present building at Sunshine was
the former cook house at Blue Mountain Ranger Station.
PLEASE SEND YOUR PRECIOUS MEMORABLE
I and many others would love to see what Sonja Johns
started - continue. I know the challenges one faces at taking on a
project such as what Sonja and Gary took on, both in time and financial
sacrifice. They have my utmost respect for giving so much of themselves
into putting the book together, as well as to all those who took the time to
write their memories to be published.
Sonja passed a few years back, so she no longer can
contribute to what she started. But with the Internet, the love and energy
she gave in trying to capture the rich memories of the past so others could
enjoy them ... can keep going on.
Please email me
from the past that involves the Bates - Austin area, for others to
enjoy. Lets keep going what Sonja started. Bates - Austin may be ghost
towns ... but rich memories are to be treasured for generations to come by
those who love hearing about "The Good Old Wild-West Days of Bates & Austin,
Please be encouraged to send your memories to me so I can post them
for others to enjoy (before they go to the grave with you, or I go to the
grave and am no longer able to post them!). My email address is:
I feel to expand some from just Bates/Austin
memories. If you have an interesting, outdoor, hunting, fishing,
camping, hiking, canoeing experience ... PLEASE send it to me. I'll post it
on this page:
Friends Of Bates State Park
David Eccles, John
Stoddard and their partners incorporated the Oregon Lumber Company on August
9, 1889 and the Sumpter Valley Railway on August 15, 1890. Linda Austin
sold the Bates property to the Oregon Lumber Company on March 19, 1915.
John ‘Jack’ Leishman directed the construction of the Bates mill during the
first week of May 1917. The mill began producing lumber during first week
of September 1917. The first Bates superintendent and postmaster was Norman
Y. Stoddard, a son of John Stoddard.
The Oregon Lumber Company
sold the Bates mill, equipment and structures to the Edward Hines Lumber
Company on December 30, 1960 – for $1.00. The reason for this nominal sale
price is unknown but perhaps the Oregon Lumber Company was concerned about
The Edwards Hines Lumber
Company closed the sawmill at Bates in 1975. The mill was dismantled. The
equipment and material was sold. The houses were sold to their occupants.
The 131-acre townsite was largely cleared and sold to Henry Ricco, the
adjacent ranch owner. Upon Mr. Ricco’s death the ranch, including the Bates
townsite, passed to his niece, Joanne Ricco Vidondo, the widow of Nick
Vidondo. Mrs. Vidondo then willed the property to her hired man, Fermin
Echeverria. When Mrs. Vidondo died, the ‘Ricco’ property passed to Mr.
Echeverria and he offered to sell the Bates property to Grant County.
Grant County then created
a non-profit entity, the Bates Park and Museum Foundation, with a goal of
developing a county park at Bates. The Bates Foundation, backed by a
county guarantee, purchased the Bates property from Mr. Echeverria with a
loan from the Old West Federal Credit Union. The Bates Foundation was
charged with obtaining private funds to pay off the credit union loan and
then give title to Bates to the county free and clear. However, in its 16
months of existence the Bates Foundation was unsuccessful in raising funds.
Consequently its officers, who lived in Canyon City, resigned in favor of
Lana Abarr. Mrs. Abarr then appointed Jackie Rapp and Leonard Cardwell to
the new Bates Foundation board. The new officers of the Bates Foundation
transferred the Bates title to the county and the county sold the property
to the State of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department on April 28, 2008,
paying off the credit union loan in the process. The Bates Foundation was
then dissolved on April 30, 2008.
The Friends of Bates State Park
In the place of the Bates Foundation, which
did not represent former Bates residents, we created The Friends of Bates
State Park on March 14, 2008. The "Friends" is a non-profit organization
established to support the operation of the Bates State Park.
Their very noble mission is stated as follows:
The Mission Of The Friends Of Bates State Park
further the education and interpretive opportunities available to park
visitors; to promote, preserve and enhance the historical, natural and
recreational resources within the park; and to assist with the park
improvements and educational programs compatible with the nature of Bates
RECENT EMAIL POSTS FROM HERE DOWN
Some of the posts won't make
total sense unless you read earlier posts scrolling further on down.
1-19-2012: (Norm Note: Tom and his
family moved to Bates in 1954. Tom lived in
Bates for a time before his dad, Fred McGinnis, took a
lumbering job in Burns in 196O.
A few memories Tom has of
his Bates days: Remember
when we would take out the single shot .22 rifles and shoot
squirrels up on the hill above Bates, and all of the times
that we would take fishing poles and fish down the Middle
Fork of the John Day river all the way to Vinegar Creek, and
then drag ourselves and the fish back to Bates? I think
this was some of the best times I ever had in my life. I
feel sorry for people who did not have this kind of a
privilege to run all over the woods and be free.
remember once that I caught a trout that was so big that it
would not go into my fish creel. I drug it home and found
out it was a Steelhead, but we ate it anyhow. Dad must have
figured at my being age 9, I did not know the difference,
and back then I do not think anyone cared. He told me to
throw it back if it happened again.
Norm - do you remember the .30-.30 carbine we found back
behind the water reservoir? (Norm note: Totally forgot about
that incident) I often wonder what happened to the person
who owned it. Remember when your sister Lenora took up off
that mountain in her jeep? I will never forget that ride and
do not remember any that wild since and I have had some good
For many years, Tom has lived in
Springfield, Oregon, but has done some serious hunting
around Oregon for many years (as well as around the world).
From time to time, Tom writes me and let's me hear about
some of his interesting hunting experiences ... and I mean
interesting. Tom is one of the most dedicated -
serious - hunters I've ever known. Because the Bates
page has been so slow in acquiring few new updates, I feel
to share one of Tom's hunting experiences, for you avid
sportsmen. As he sends me more of his outdoor experiences,
I'll post them on the following link: AMAZING OUTDOOR
EXPERIENCES Others are strongly encouraged to send me their
amazing outdoor life experiences as well to publish on the
Shane & Deb (Ducket)
Horrell: We just found this site and was
reading some of the stories. I was a Duckett – we moved
there in the summer of 1958. My dad, Dick, was the
machinist there and moved with the mill to John Day and was
the machinist until his death in 1981. I remember the last
days of Bates. I had gotten married in August of 1974.
Shane and I moved in with dad (mom and dad had purchased a
house in John Day and she had gone ahead there since she was
working for the Credit Union that had moved there). I still
have some of the glasses and rugs we purchased during the
final sale days at the store. My husband had gotten a job
at the mill and since dad had to be available until the end,
we were one of the last families to leave. I can still
remember hauling the last of my childhood toys and things we
didn’t need to the old dump. Dad sold us the house he had
purchased for $2.00 and we moved it to Prairie City. Shane
and I have both remarked that if the mill had stayed there
we would still be there, too. Part of the park sits close
to our old homesite. The willow trees that dad planted are
still there. We live in Elgin, OR now but Shane’s parents,
Stan and Polly Horrell, live in Prairie City. We go to see
them as often as we can. Have been watching the progress of
the park. We both have many fond memories of Bates.
Bates Guy Norm: 9-29-2011:
Unfortunately my wife and I were not able to attend the official
Bates Park Opening celebration, but it's such a blessing to now know
that the Park is official. Again - thanks to ALL who helped
make the Park a reality!
Bates Guy Norm: 9-10-2011:
Much thanks to Richard Lemmon for sending some Ranger
Station/Lookout history (See above in the Bates-Austin History
Bates Guy Norm Rasmussen:
11-28-2010: For those of you who have never been
to Silver Creek Falls (East of Salem, Oregon), here's some footage
of that part of Oregon:
Bates Guy Norm: 9-7-2010:
My wife and I were fortunate to be able to travel to Oregon in
August and remain until early September. What was especially
delightful was to meet several people at the Bates-Austin County
Fair booth during the fair days in John Day, and also be able to
attend The Friends Of Bates State Park yearly meeting on September
7, 2010 (not to mention being able to visit a few wonderful friends
I grew up with in Bates and Prairie City; seems like there is never
enough time to visit all I would like to have seen: Grrr ...).
I want to genuinely thank all the people who have given themselves
to The Friends Of Bates State Park
efforts. I was blessed and extremely amazed to see the focused
enthusiasm and energetic efforts of the people on the "Park
Committee". Dennis from the Oregon States Park
Commission was also "first class" in presenting facts to the "Park
Committee", and to others such as myself who were there to be
updated on matters from the Park's Commission.
The Bates-Austin Park is moving
forward, folks. Do to funds being tight in our economy, the
Park may not evolve into it's fullest reality as quickly as many
might hope ... but I personally have every reason to believe the
Park is going to happen! It has already started! While
in the Bates area, I watched the old sawmill dry kilns vanish into
history. The contractor hired to demolish it and haul away the
debris did a first class job at a VERY REASONABLE rate, I might add.
Kudos to whoever hired and negotiated with that contractor.
Kudos also to Pat Voigt for his cooperation in the matter.
From talking with various people
around Grant Country -- some who may have had apprehension in the
beginning about a Park-History Preservation Site being built on the
old Bates Sawmill property -- they are now changing their minds.
The history of Bates - Austin from the pioneer days; the gold mining
era; the sawmill-lumbering era -
DESERVES to be preserved.
It's not something to be buried with those who go to their graves,
but to be REMEMBERED for future generations to come.
As a side note, the salmon run was
in full swing the latter days of August and into September. I
witness and videotaped salmon on the Middle Fork of the John Day
river zipping up the rippling rapids -- WHAT A THRILL! Never
while I lived in Bates growing up did I ever see so many salmon
going up the Middle Fork to spawn! The water is fresh and
clear, thanks to conscientious, eco-nature minded ranchers such at
Pat and Heidi Voigt who own the property the Middle Fork runs
through on the Austin side of the highway. Their intensive
investigation and implementation over the years in wise irrigation
flows has obviously paid off as the abundance of salmon clearly
reveals. (Heck - the water is so clean you could probably take
a cup and drink out of it NOW without much worry. Sure wasn't
that way when I lived in Bates for nearly 16 years).
I'm been told that some people on
the Western side of Oregon are concerned about salmon not being able
to spawn up Bridge Creek. Salmon never wanted to spawn up
Bridge Creek nor did they want to spawn up Clear Creek since time
began. The nature of the salmon in the Middle Fork of the John
Day river has always been to remain in the biggest part of a river
to spawn. Yes - they can swim up tributaries of the
Middle Fork to spawn, but they never have. Why would they WANT
to? The deeper pools in the head-waters of the Middle Fork of
the John Day river has been the most suitable place for them to
continue their species. Salmon aren't stupid to swim up
shallow tributaries when they aren't forced to. They have an
innate sense of KNOWING cougar and bear love fresh salmon.
I don't know if I'll be able to
make it out to the Annual Bates-Austin picnic in 2011,
(financially we are only able to get out to Oregon about every 3-4
years), but I would encourage ALL to try to make it, even if for
only a few hours. The more support people show for the
Bates-Austin Park ... odds increase that Park monies that would
normally be allocated for Park enhancement and growth in Western
Oregon will be channeled into Eastern Oregon. Why not
channeled specifically for The Eastern Oregon BATES-AUSTIN Park?!!!
That property has tons of potential for people from all around the
WORLD to enjoy.
Don Endecott: 02-24-2010: Doc. Mick Watterson has
discovered an old photo of the SVRR depot in Austin. Leonard
Cardwell lived in Austin as a kid and used to play at the depot.
He remember the man who managed the depot but can't remember the
man's name. Does anyone remember the man's name?
Gregg - that man
was Elmer Stewart. He had a dodge Turing car. It had an open
top, and he would drive to Bates, or whereever he wanted to go, and
if you were walking from Austin to Bates he would stop and give you
I had a ride
with him from Austin to Bates one time. Let us never forget
those great people who blazed the trail so we could walk on them.
And let us never forget old Repass, the bear hunter. He had a
cabin on the Middle Fork just above the Eccles mill. When he
would come to Austin, all the dogs would start to bark and Oz
Meadows at the store would say, "Well here comes Repass!"
never forget the old cowboy - Whisky Bob - who was tossed into the
Austin jail house. He hollered so loud ... keeping the people
awake. Finally they turned him loose so he would quiet down,
so they could get some sleep.
Not sure if many alive
remember that there used to be a board walk across the meadow area
in Austin -- from the road going to the depot, and to where the
railroad tracks were near the Stock Yards. It had a long flag pole
in the middle that the folks there flew the American Flag on. The
walk covered a good sized ditch and we could crawl from one end of
it to the other. Our folks would tell us to stay out of there and
that the "Spooks" would get us if we didn't. Of course being kids,
we didn't listen.
Well Elmer Stewart and Eldie Cook
(Train man who lived next to us) saw me and a little girl named
Gayle Henshaw go in to the ditch. They waited until we were in a
ways and they howled and yelled in the hole. Dad says they were
laughing so hard they cried as two little kids came flying out of
that ditch. We always took a light when we went in after
01-08-2010: Somewhere around 1955 I was fishing on Clear
Creek just up from Jerry Howard's house. I looked up on the hill
and saw a sheep. The band had come through several days before so
I knew this was a stray. I ran down to Jerry's house and got a rope
from his mother to lasso the sheep. Skip Miles, me and another kid
walked up the hill to get the sheep. We were about parallel to the
top of the upper mill pond. When we came over the crest of the hill
we saw what seemed like hundreds of sheep. (I don't know how many
there were - but lots.) We didn't know what to do but there was
supposedly a $2 reward for bringing in a stray sheep. We thought:
So we began herding the sheep up to Austin where
there was a corral. We packed the sheep into the corral. We
were trying to figure out how to call Black Hans, the sheeps' owner,
who lived down between Fox Valley and Monument. Just then, coming
down the road on horseback, with a pack horse, was the sheepherder.
His camp was at Taylor siding.
He said "What are you boys doing?" I answered,
"We found all these stray sheep and we wanted to turn them in and
get a reward."
He said something like: "Fine. Come down to the
store with me." He bought us each a bottle of pop and a candy bar.
Then we went back to Austin, got the sheep out of the corral and
helped him get the sheep back on the road to Taylor Siding. I
asked when we would get our reward? He said, "Mr. Hanse (or
Hansen?) would be up in a day or two and I could talk with him about
the reward." I said, "Fine."
So the next day - and then for day after day for a
couple of weeks - I would drive my Grandpa's Model A up to Taylor
Siding, waiting for Black Hanse. He never came. It finally dawned
on me that the sheepherder, who was probably drunk, lost half his
band. He was not about to tell Mr. Hansen that he had lost them -
and Black Hanse had no plans to come up to see his sheep
during summer grazing. I ended up feeling betrayed - and stupid.
The next year I was fishing down below the mill - and
saw a sheep up on the hill. I knew what to do this time. I went
home, got my .22 and drove my Grandpa's Model A up the road to the
reservoir. I walked down to where the sheep was, shot it, gutted
it, took it home, skinned it, and we enjoyed eating it for some
Bates Guy Norm: 01-08-2010:
(Gregg's sheep story has given me the courage to share MINE). A guy I
chummed around with some at Bates by the name of Edward Rutz lived just
across the creek from us. We were somewhere between the ages 11-13.
That was in the 1950's. I don't recall what his dad did at the mill, but
his mother taught some there at the grade school for maybe part of a
year. Ed built a wooded fort out back of his house and we slept
overnight in it from time to time. As BORED boys sometimes got at
Bates, we sometimes crossed the line of "responsible" and thought that
mischievousness was sometimes acceptable as long as we didn't get
Sheep were corralled at
Austin in the sheep/cattle pens at the time. While we lay there in the
dark in our sleeping bags munching chocolate Oreo Creme cookies (Ed was
addicted to them. Pimples on his face sometimes looked like tiny
Oreo's) in the fort, one of us came up with the idea that it would be
fun to experience what sheep rustling would be like. We even thought it
might look good someday on our resumes. Hyped up on a sugar overdose,
the more we talked about it, the less sleepy we became, and by midnight,
we talked ourselves into walking to Austin to each rustle a sheep.
We kept our flashlights
off so as not to be spotted. Neither of us were very big nor strong, so
hoisting a sheep in the dark over a pretty tall wooden corral fence in
the dark became no easy task -- especially as the sheep were trying to
kick your teeth and eyes out! After much loud "bahhhhhhhhhhhing" by all
the other sheep fearing for THEIR lives, and the two sheep we chose to
rustle NOT desiring all that much to be busted out of prison ... we
finally managed to each rustle us two fine sheep.
With the sheep continuing
to loudly "bahhhhhHHHHH" all the while we tussled and tugged on the
ropes we had tired to each of them, we pulled them up the hill above the
corrals. Once we were about half a mile away from Austin in the deepest
woods we could find, we tied the sheep to trees, and beat it back to
Bates. Before hopping into our sleeping bags, we washed the pungent
odor of sheep smell off us as best we could. I can assure you that we
didn't count sheep EITHER to get to sleep! We were two exhausted boys
who had put in a hard night's work.
Okay - now that we were
accomplished, fully professional, sheep rustlers, what to DO with them?
We had no clue. Edward asked his folks the next day if they liked
mutton, but both firmly answered, "No! WHY?"
"Because Norm and I
spotted a couple of stray sheep up on the far end of the Airport hill
yesterday up above Austin, and was wondering if you might want to eat
one if we could somehow capture one?"
My parents weren't
interested in fresh mutton either, so now we had a dilemma. What to do
with our two prizes? Neither of us were into 4-H.
A couple of days passed,
and nothing came to mind, so we decided we would do the RIGHT thing and
return the sheep to where we got them. But much to our SURPRISE ... all
the sheep in the pens were now gone! "Oh no - we aren't going to get
caught putting two solitary sheep back in the pens," we told
ourselves. "No way!"
Okay - are you ready for a
happy/sad ending? We turned the sheep loose and let them have their
freedom. Whether they were able to join up with their buddies, or
whether they became someone's dinner, we never found out. (Upon reading
Gregg's sheep story above ... after all these years ... I may now have
Donald Anderson: 01-04-2010:
I am a former resident of the town of Bates and Knuteville. I
recognized some names of people that have contributed to your website.
My family lived in the area from 1942 until 1946. I went to school at
Bates-Austin from the third grade 1943 to 1946. I also recognized Dave
Connolly. I don't know if this is the same David Connolly that I knew
but would like to contact both of these people.
I am in the process of
writing a biography for my children. When we lived in Bates we used to
swim in the upper mill pond. We lived in the upper row of housing in
what was then known as Knuteville. I returned to Bates in 1980. All
that was left were the tall smoke stacks for the mill. I have some
photographs of that visit. Thank you for any help you may wish to
Danny Bogart: 12-20-09:
Reading Gregg's memories about dynamite below ... I'm reminded of
another incident. Some of us kids (Jerry, Gregg, myself and probably
Skip) decided to use some of the explosives to go fishing on the pond on
the airport hill. We paddled a makeshift raft out into the middle of
the pond using some long picket fence poles as oars. A stick of
dynamite was charged with a cap and fuse. One of us fools (Jerry) lit
the dang thing and dropped it off the edge of the raft into the water
and we all begin paddling as hard and fast as you could paddle a log
raft with sticks! FORTUNATELY... the dang thing didn't go off. If it
had, it would have blown us to bits (as we had gotten no where with our
furious paddling) and probably blown the earth damn out, and all the
water that supported the fire fighting hydrants would have flowed down
the hill into the Middle Fork below.
Exciting; but scared the
crap out of us and we told NO ONE of this routine day in the lives of
the Bates kids.
Gregg Smith: 12-20-2009:
Today they close the schools if there is even a threat of snow. That
reminds me of a severe winter in Bates. It may have been the winter of
1957/58. We had two or three feet of new snow over night. There was so
much snow the high school bus, even with chains, couldn’t move. So the
company provided a D-8 cat. The cat attached a chain to the front of
the school bus and literally dragged the bus one mile up to the State
Highway at the ‘Y.’ At that point the highway crew had plowed the
highway all the way to Prairie City. We were late getting to school that
morning but we got there. In those days they didn’t close school unless
there was a serious problem. This wasn’t a serious problem.
Gregg Smith: 12-19-2009:
Sometimes it got a bit boring living in the Bates - Austin area. There
just wasn't things for boys to do like there are in the big cities.
Thus, sometimes - to liven up things up a little - it called for some
higher level creativity ... as in "Raiding The Powder House".
Now before I make
this confession ... I often thought that if we Bates kids did some
things in a city that we did in Bates, we would have spent our youth in
reform school. A case in point: a burglary, theft of private property,
destruction of government assets, vandalism, illegal fishing, etc., etc.
I think it was the
summer of 1955. Jerry Howard, Errol Frazier, Oakie Joe Johnson and I
drove down to the company powder house on Ruby Creek on the Middle Fork
across from the DeWitt ranch. We were curious. The company powder
house was built into the hillside with large logs. The door was
massive. It was secured with a large logging chain and a huge lock.
There was no way to break through it. However, the powder house was
built into the hillside. The roof was corrugated tin panels. We walked
up the hillside and onto the roof of the powder house. Then, with a
claw hammer, we pulled nails out of the tin roof panels and created an
opening. We then lowered Oakie Joe down into the powder house and he
handed up several cases of dynamite. We then re-nailed the roof panels.
What we needed then
was dynamite caps and fuse. The cap house set several feet away from
the powder house. It was an old outhouse that had metal plates all
around. The door of the cap house was locked with a padlock, but the
padlock was located high up on the door – I assume so that kids couldn’t
mess with it. However, because the lock was so high on the door, we
could push the bottom of the door open five or six inches with our
feet. That allowed us to slide Jerry’s scissor jack into the crack of
the door. We then carefully jacked open a space large enough for Jerry
to slither inside and grab boxes of dynamite caps and many feet of fuse.
played with dynamite and blasting caps all that summer. At one
point Jerry Howard, Skip Miles and I were paddling a raft around the
upper pond. Skip was at the bow of the raft. I was at the aft.
Jerry was in the middle. I decided to scare Skip so I picked up a
piece of floating bark. I drilled a hole in it with my pocket knife
and poked a blasting cap into the bark, intending to throw it
ahead of us to startle Skip. Unfortunately I cut the fuse too short
and as I pulled my hand back to throw the bark, the cap exploded
about ear level on my right side. My hand was miraculously
protected by the bark, which absorbed much of the explosion. But
about 32 pieces of metal hit my ribs and stomach. If those metal
fragments had hit me in the face I would have been
blinded. Jerry remembers that we went to Mabel Johns, the company
nurse, and she helped dig out the metal fragments out of my rib cage
and stomach. I dug metal fragments out of my body with a needle for
weeks. I told my grandmother a large fire cracker had exploded, it
startled me and I fell back on a pile of brush - and that explained
all the blood.
Kids have their cover stories. I did come away with a powder burn
on my right eye. We went to the John Day optometrist. I told him
the burn was from a fire cracker. I think he gave me some salve for
my eye. I still see a dark spot when I look through a peep sight
caused by the scar on my right eye. Kids probably shouldn't play
with dynamite and blasting caps - but we did.
We then spent the
rest of the summer blowing up trees, ‘fishing’ in deep holes in the
river and creating general mayhem. The caps were great ‘fire crackers.’
Some of the caps were used to blow out the ends of peoples’ round
newspaper cans. We used the dynamite to dig a tunnel in the cut across
from the dam at the upper millpond. We would punch a hole into the
hillside, slide in sticks of dynamite, set a charge with a long fuse and
go downtown to the store. We would stand around in front of the store
until the explosion could be heard all around town. Hey! It couldn’t
be us! We were down at the store where anyone could see us.
explosions rattled the dishes in my grandmother’s house and my
grandfather asked about that. I told him I thought the power company
was digging holes for new power poles. Phew. Safe.
There is more ... but
I don’t know whether the statute of limitation has expired or not.
Dr. Mick Watterson: 12-17-2009:
When I was about five or six, I begged Mom and Dad for a pair of cowboy
boots. Just before school started, Mom and Dad went to town to buy us
all shoes for school. I had my heart set on those "Cowboy Kickers".
I didn't get those boots.
Rather, I got a pair of cute little RED loafers with silly little silver
buckles. Imagine ... a boy of five or six, in Bates no less ... walking
around with little RED loafers!
To avoid embarrassment at
school, I proceeded to throw my little RED
loafers in Clear Creek and watch them begin their long journey to the
John Day River ... and ultimately to the Pacific Ocean.
I need not elaborate
further. My hind end still aches from Dad's discipline.
lived in Bates from 1944 to 1954. Well, actually in Knuteville. We were
in house #4. My aunt Sue Spainhoward was next door and my Uncle Russell
Chandler and Aunt Mae Connelly were just down the line from us. Gregg
Smith and I were classmates at Bates Grade School.
I was going to school at the Austin school when the train left. Art
Cardwell was the principal and Miss Black was the first-grade teacher.
We drank from a well with a hand pump out front using little paper
cups. I still have a scar in between my index and middle finger on my
left hand from a rusty nail on that pump. One day, there was a furor and
it turned out one of the girls - I think it was Betty Lou Shea - had
pumped a salamander into her paper cup.
Miss Black used to make us wash up with something like Pine-Sol. She
also used to whack our knuckles for a variety of reasons. I still have
a scar over my left eye from the time my cousin, Karen Nutt, pushed me
and I hit the railing around the porch of the old school.
I remember the day the train left. I loved that train and I came out for
recess and it was just next to the school. They were pulling up the
rails and putting them on flat cars. That was a devastating day for me
because I used to just love to got downtown and see the train.
My Uncle Russell was a carpenter and got the material from the company
to build the new school and the gym. My dad and lots of men from the
town pitched in and built the new school and the gym. One weekend, my
dad and I put in the sprinkling system for the lawn there.
I completed grade school there. My father, Bill Nutt, was the diesel
mechanic and worked on the caterpillars and other equipment in the
woods. He was also a welder. He had started as a logger with his twin
brother Walt. Dad went to mechanicing and Walt worked in the offices
after he had his leg badly broken by a log at the mill pond. There were
four of us kids; Dolores, me, Gary and Greg. Greg was born in 1950 in
In the fall of 1954 we moved to Boise, Idaho. I have so many memories
of Bates. The last time I was there was when I was going to Paris and
stopped in to see our old place. The Boyers were living there then. The
next time I came back, it was all gone. Even though I haven't seen Bates
in 35 years, it remains pretty much alive for me.
I ran across the discussion back in 2008 about Carol Curtis. She was
a very pretty woman and a several years older than I was. She and some
other kids were being pulled by a Model A. I think she was on a
Something happened and she slid under the car. Her foot go caught in
the spokes and it was mangled pretty badly. It was a long time before
they finally amputated her foot. She had to undergo several unsuccessful
attempts to save her foot.
She wore a sort of flesh-colored, hard plastic prosthetic. One day I
was staring at it and she asked me if I was getting a good look. I felt
a little foolish, but I think she meant no harm with her chiding me and
it just reflected the fact that she was dealing with it.
It was an unfortunate accident and it obviously shook up a lot of
parents, because all of us kids got warned about the dangers of
hooky-bobbing by our parents.
(Bates Guy Norm:
Hearing that Bill had become a Nuclear Physicist, I asked him if he
would be willing to share a biography of himself, and he has complied.
So - Bill is the FIRST to let me share his story after leaving the
Bates-Austin area. Go to the Biographies link near the top of the page
to read it, and others, if you would like.)
I came across a mention of a guitar player in a December
6, 2008, note from Rial Green. Depending on when that was, that could
well have been Clarence Luther. He was there from the early '50s and
played at dances. He was married to my cousin, Lucille Luther.
Don Endicott: 11-04-2009:
Clifton Woolman emailed me on October 10th:
Don - I found
a new photo of Stoddard Lumber Co. Heisler # 5. S/N 1360 built
in May 1917, 36 tons 2 trucks. The locomotive was previously
numbered # 3 by Stoddard. Any comments?
reply: The pictures of the old girl look great and what
wonderful stories it could tell. One of the interesting
times ... my Uncle Bee Brown was running the 10 spot,
pulling the passenger from Prairie City to Baker. His
fireman was Dick Martin, and the conductor was Calhoun.
your loco on time was a real importance on the railroad, and
running late or fast was never allowed.
(5) miles from Baker was a long straightaway, and Bee was
running for town on time, moving on down the track. But up
ahead ... a big bull was on the track. He had gotten out
from a pasture along where the track ran.
laid down on the train whistle and rang the bell, but the
old bull just kept chewing his cud. To keep from hitting
the bull, Bee slowed down the train and stopped in front of
the old guy, and after a few choice words ... with the help
of a few hard rocks, the bull got off the track.
up the old 10 spot and made a mad dash for town, and when he
came into the yards, he was running over 10 minutes late.
The superintendent happened to be at the depot and cornered
Bee in the cab, and really raked him over the coals.
Running late was no excuse -- what ever the reason -- and it
was never to happen again.
Bee was one of the best fast running engineers they had, and
he did not like to be dressed down by any one.
next day, he and his crew are going down the same
straightaway ... heading for Baker on time. Down the track
was the very same bull!
down on the whistle, but never slacked off the throttle this
time. The speed she was making was a good 35 - 40 miles an
"I was SURE the bull would move off the track with all
the noise I was making, but you know - that old bull just
kept watching me until the locomotive made contact. Parts
of the bull went on one side, and parts on the other, but
most was deposited on the front of the old 10 spot."
what happened? Sumpter Valley Railroad paid $300 dollars
for the bull and Uncle Bee got a 30 day suspension.
is one of many stories that could be told about the
old 10 spot.
Norm Guy Here: 11-03-2009:
Things to post here from folks have been a bit slow the last few months,
so to add something NEW, I'm going to post Len Cardwell's hunting
experience. (Len turned 72 yesterday, by the way). In asking Len if he
could/would share with me about his hunting this fall, here was his
"So Norm -- You
want a deer hunting story????
"As I started to
leave home, my dear wife said I ought to check
the trailer tires. Sooo ... I went to
Les Schwab's in Pendleton. They found a break
in two of them so I bought 4 new 10-plys.
"I got to Idaho
Creek to camp and a fool had tents all over the
camp area. He was waiting for ALL his hunting
buddies from the valley to show up. I had to
park in another spot.
"I backed my
trailer up but it wouldn't seem to go back. Got
a little run and WHAM! Looked in the mirror to
see a 10-inch tree rocking. The spare tire
holder and trailer bumper are now indented in
"The first night the furnace went out due to low
batteries ... soooo ... off to Les
Schwab's in John Day. Load test was bad and
the date on the batteries was 10 - 2006. You
guessed it -- Three years almost to the day. No
warrantee, so two new batteries.
"Back to the
trailer but the furnace still not working.
Went to Prairie City to get Gunther Clark to fix
the furnace but he is gone hunting.
"Back to the trailer and I was told the furnace
was working now. Problem was no propane.
then my brother fell in the trailer and tore my
fire extinguisher off the wall.
"Then we are setting at the dinner table with
the New Champion 5500 KW Generator running when
all of a sudden "Bang - grunt" and it
stopped. Went to see what the problem was and
it is froze up solid.
"Finally shot a
"Then went to
clean my gun on the way home and my 25 year old
.30-06 pump would not eject.
"Got home and
after filling my propane tank, I found out it
had a leak. Lost all the propane again and had
to buy a new tank. Generator to the shop and
the intake valve sucked into the piston. No can
fix so bought a new generator (Electric start).
"Still waiting on
"So #$%& much fun I
went back for Elk!
!!!!!!!!!! But all went well and a safe trip
"Can't wait for
NEXT season to get here!"
7-29-2009: I wrote some memories some time ago about the
years my family lived at the Y Junction. What I wanted to do
this time is inform the readers that my uncle, Lawrence Nielsen,
published a number of books on pioneer roads in Oregon. One of
these books, "In the Ruts of the Wagon
Wheels - Pioneer Roads in Central Oregon," has a
chapter on the Prairie City to Baker Road concerning the old
stage and freight roads between the two towns. It has the
location of the stage stops between the two places, maps, and
history. It is not being published now but for anyone who would
like to read this informative book it can be found in libraries.
Greg Whiteaker: 7-7-2009:
Hey Norm -
It's getting to be that time of year again, where us bow hunters head
over to the Bates-Austin area! We just returned from a scouting trip
today and I have a few pics to share. I took my dad with me, who has
never camped in his life, and he couldn't get enough of the beauty of
This year I plan to hunt a little further off the
road than I had before, and being 29 now, I better do it while I can.
After looking at several aerial photos of the area, I picked out a
meadow on the east side of Dixie mountain and plugged the coordinates
into my GPS and strapped on my hiking boots to go and check it out. When
I finally got there, (those GPS's tell you how to get there, but never
the EASIEST WAY to get there) I was amazed. It has to be the most
beautiful place I have ever seen. I was lucky enough to share it with my
dad (56) and my grandpa (70) who decided to make that huge hike with me,
both carrying a full load on their backs! As we walked out into the
meadow we saw a huge dump of cans (oil?, food?) and an old broken down
cabin on the east side of the meadow. On the west side of the meadow
there was a HUGE sign stuck to a tree that read NELSONS MEADOW. I
just wondered if you had any info of what the cabin was used for or who
used it, and who NELSON was? I enclosed a picture of the sign, and
another item we found there. I was wondering if you could shed some
light on it for me. One of the pieces I didn't get a pic of had the
words ALDON CHICAGO, ILL on it.. Anyhow, I hope you enjoy the pics;
please share them with whoever you like! I will let you know how my hunt
goes in September! (Photos to be posted as soon as I can get my wife
to post them; preoccupied with spoiling 3 grandsons at the present!).
Rial Green Update: 7-4-2009:
If you have taken the time to read the many posts that follow, you'll no
doubt be blessed by most of the posts Rial Green forwarded so
they could be shared with others. Rial recently passed into the next
life a few ago, and many of us can't be thankful enough for Rial taking
the time to share his past memories and PRECIOUS humor with us! I'm
going to share a few emails I received from Rial over the last few
months, but didn't post, because they were more of a personal nature.
If any of Rial's family objects to my posting them, please let me know,
and I'll remove them. I don't want this forum to be a source of offense
4-1-2009: (Norm's post
to Rial: "We ALL miss your posts. You still able to punch computer
keys? What's happening? How's your health? - Bates Guy Norm Rasmussen
and the REST")
final email to Norm): You might say I'm a little lazy now. I
hardly do anything now but sleep and take some tasty pills. The Hospice
nurses come to see me once a week and adjust my medications and my body
tries to keep up with the new regimen. I am feeling better now and maybe
I will start writing more. I also need to get into my storage and go
through pictures, of which I have quite a few.
My daughter and her husband wait on me so much and take such good care
of me -- I told them that if they keep up this much care, I just might
decide to keep on living!
All the best, Rial
12-27-2008: I got my results back.
Some good; some not so good. They discovered on the last cat scan and
pet scan I have "Epigastric Mass" Lymphoma. They couldn't see it
before. it looks like a sheet of saran wrap -- transparent until it
wads up and is not hidden behind something else. I asked that doctor
for a second opinion. He said," O.K., You're ugly". I asked my cancer
doctor how long I have. She said, "About three months". I said, "Doc,
I can't pay my bill in that time." She said, "Alright - I'll give you
another three months." The good news is I can't be given
chemotherapy because I have an anourism (sic) and I can't have surgery
because my platelets are too low. So I don't have to do anything but lay
around, which I have found I am good at. My daughter and I are going to
try to dig up more pictures to send about Bates and the Sumpter Valley
RY. Have a good new Year. I am enjoying mine, really! - Rial
12-24-2008: A merry
Christmas to you and yours. I have been a little lax on sending in
anything lately. My time has been consumed by taking tests and cat
scans. But that is over now so perhaps I will be able to contribute a
little. - Rial
Bates Guy Norm: 5-14-2009:
Okay - spring is here. Folks have put snowblowers and snowmobile suits
away and now planting gardens. It is to be realized that writing
Bates/Austin memories gets to the bottom of the "to-do-list" this time
of year ... but the absence of memories to publish here is making me
squirm a little. Okay - what do I do about it? Tell a memory of
How many remember Art Cardwell during school hours and his "apple a day
keeps the doctor away?" He would take out that VERY SHARP pocketknife
of his and slice that red delicious apple so carefully into just their
proper sections. Then he would nibble away at those apples slices ...
all the while reading something or other. Was it only ME who would lust
after one of those slices of of his apple? I have NEVER had such an
impressionable memory imprinted on my brain as Art and his daily apple.
To this very day, while I'm shopping at the store, and I walk past red
delicious apples, I have faint flashbacks of Art and his daily "apple
I really don't know if he
engaged in that "apple encounter" every day of the school year, or just
when apples were in season. Would anyone happen to remember?
Juanita Gabiola Moore:
4-23-2009: Congratulations on the terrific web site. I have
enjoyed the Bates site very much. I was just 4 or 5 in 1944 when Dad
moved the family from Bates to Boise, so I have few actual memories of
Bates. However, Dad continued to work there and commuted from Bates to
Boise once a month or so. He worked at the mill from the early 1920's
to the early 1950's. If any of you old timers out there have memories of
him that you can share with me, I would appreciate it so much. His name
was Chappo Gabiola. My e-mail address is
Neeter1815@aol.com. Kindest regards.
Sharon Haynes: 4-22-2009:
Some of you may still remember the old Company Ranch down the river
from Bates. Here are some memories I recall about it:
In 1949 there were
no realtors in Grant County, so my parents leased the Company Ranch from
John Forrest’s uncle: A 3 -4 year lease. The buildings had been used
for horse logging. The main house floor was splintered from logger
spikes on their boots. There was no electric power; a hand pump for
water, and we had dug for a well for water supply. We had Aladdin lamps
for light, wood cook stove. We tore down several old buildings; that
was part of the lease agreement, to clean up the place. We ran upwards
of 300 head of cows, in the spring we drove over Dixie camp in the
backside of the mill. We milked about 10 cows for milk and cream. We
had four or five chicken houses; we started the chicks in Prairie City
and sold fryers to the Bates people along with the milk and cream.
One of the chicken
houses was on Vincent Creek. It must have been where the chickens got
the gold nuggets in their craw the Bates people found. I swore up and
down I’d never own a chicken for it was my job to clean the chicken
houses. We also sold eggs and butter. I would go to town (Prairie
City) once a week to do laundry and yard work. We had garden in town, a
push lawn mower - no gas mowers then.
My dad was good
friends of the OxBow ranch manager. The Oxbow had Morgan horses so my
dad bought me a Morgan horse to ride, a mare. I rode several times a
week. Redney was a very smooth, fast walker.
One summer we had pinkeye in our cattle. We ran them through the corral
once a week for doctoring. The dust in the corral was a foot deep and
it was my job to keep the gas pumps going so to sprinkle the corral to
keep the dust down, at least four pumps.
I fished every day,
and my mom made me eat every one for breakfast. There were several
beaver ponds on backside of the railroad bed that had trout; they were
very wild; you couldn’t fish with a pole with eyes; you had to fish with
a long stick and short line.
If there was a cloud
of dust in the distance it was a log truck coming and we’d bet a quarter
the number on the truck.
started betting a quarter for every sage rat (ground squirrels) we could
kill with a b-b gun. Most of the time the b-b would just bounce off. I
had to share the gun with my cousin. He never got a rat, but I did,
because I figured how to hit them in the head. My grandfather gave us
the money. I am still a good shot with a b-b gun. I practice with
clothes pins on a line.
There is nothing
more heavenly that pure quiet, and the fresh smell of the earth (dirt)
when it rains. It’s been a long time since I’ve smelled that scent that
was at Bates.
One summer we put up
hay, using the horses. We used a large rope net to pull up the stacks
and I would pull the net off the stack with my horse and a rope. I was
using my uncle’s paint horse. You didn’t dare get a rope close to it’s
hind legs or you’d be airborne. Well, it happened, and my dad came off
that stack so fast it was amazing.
We left our horses
there that winter. Twice a week we went and threw them hay. They fare
pretty well in deep snow.
Nobody has mentioned
the Chinese artifacts there were buried down river. People dug them up
for several years --- and how about the people from Sumpter that came
over and burned the old gold dredge on the DeWitt Ranch?
At one time there
was a post office on the Dewitt Ranch. When the snow was so deep -
there were gallon cans of coyote bait behind one of the out houses; it
stunk to high heaven. My brother got into it; he stunk for several
days. You could not wash it off and that house could not be used, the
stink was so bad. Later we were told it was bear grease. There had
been several outhouse and we tore them down.
The huge barn had 3
lofts in it; storage for hay in the winter; we never used that barn.
My dad bought some
wild cows; they’d never been worked with. I always helped out but he
didn’t want me in the corral so I was sitting on the fence this one
My grandfather had a
stock yard near Vale. One time he was visiting at the house. He had
come only to see how things were going. He was good with a rope, but he
couldn’t catch the wild cows either, no matter how hard he tried.
My dad was on his
horse Sunshine. Grandpa walked up to Sunshine, and my Dad handed him
the rope, and fell over dead. He was a true cowman. I put his picture
in our cowboy museum.
I remember a Sumpter
train engine at Austin, and they decided they’d better get it out of
there before there were no tracks. There was a story in the paper about
it - the smoke bellowing out of the engine. My dad helped get it
When the water in
the river (Middle Fork of the John Day) got real warm there were eels --
lots of them. Terrible looking things. I imagine they eat lots of
fish. My dad caught a large steelhead or salmon one time. That fish
was so skinny my mom made him bury it in the garden.
We saw a meteorite
land in the field one time. We found it and I had it for years.
I was always looking
for agates on Vincent Creek, and one time I found somebody’s eye balls.
I looked at them and looked at them, not believing what I was seeing.
But by dang it, they were eye balls! I quick stuck them in my pocket.
I couldn’t stand
them in my pocket – they sort of gave me the creeps - so the next day I
went back to where I found them; closed my eyes and spun around and
around and let them go. Unless someone ever found them … two eyes still
search for gold day and night on Vincent Creek!
remember the nickel stamp mill I think was at Camp Creek? One of those
draws down there was heavily posted: No Trespassing. I think the
owner of the property was Hankins, but not positive.
We had the company
Ranch for 8 – 9 years.
I don’t know why
Camp Creek sticks in my mind – it was across from the DeWitt Ranch.
That all changed so much – some by the Forest Service – they closed one
of those roads.
Thanks so much, Sandy, for sharing some of this precious history
Sandy mailed me a
copy of an official OREGON LUMBER COMPANY letter head. It has a
logo of three tree-like objects, with these words at the top:
LUMBER MANUFACTURERS SINCE
1889 John Day Ponderosa Pine Trim - Mt. Hood Douglas Fir -
Allwood Hardboard Mills at Baker, Bates and Dee,
Oregon Ponderosa Pine Sales -- Baker,
Oregon Douglas Fir Sales -- Dee, Oregon
Thompson: 4-20-2009: I lived in Bates in the middle 1940s.
We moved down from Camp 2 and lived in the second house next to the
Lee's house on the left hand side. My father, Lyle Thompson, worked
there and my brothers Bert and Elmer also worked there after the
war. I'm 79 years old and my brother Elmer is 88.
I went to the old school up the tracks. Mrs
Hickerson was my first teacher. then I had Mr.Caldwell the rest of
the time thru the 8th grade. I started the 9th grade in Prairie
City. I went 3 weeks and quit. I left Bates and went to Ritzville
Washington for awhile, then went to Umatilla, Oregon and worked on a
Dairy Farm until I went in the Navy at age 18. I retired from the
Navy in 1970 and am living in Newport, Rhode Island.
I remember Mr.Caldwell. He was a tough man but a
very fair man. I was back to Oregon one time to see my brothers.
Bert lived in Prairie and Elmer lived in Canyon City at the time.
(Elmer and his wife Jean now live in Mt. Vernon). We drove to Bates
but there was nothing there -- all gone.
Here's some memories that come to mind of the old
Bates days: Dean and Carl Doe, Jack Howard, Wayne Heaton and I used
to walk the logs in the mill pond to see who would be the first to
fall in. Luckily, none of us ever did.
During school, we used to have to go up and
sit on a long bench in front of Mr.Cardwell's desk and recite.
We would sit: boy-girl-boy-girl; etc., I was sitting on the
end and Barbara Kranenburg got up to read. I bent down to make
faces at her. Mr. Cardwell saw me and told me take my desk. As
I got up to leave, he caught me at the end of his desk --
grabbed me by the arm and threw me about 8 feet up against the
blackboard, telling me to go to my desk, get my books and go
home. As I got to the door to leave, he met me there and threw
me back to my seat and told me to sit down. He didn't hurt me
physically; just my feelings. But to this day, I think He was a
great man and teacher, in my book.
Another time, all us boys were out in the
big field where a large creek went through. One place had
a deep hole where we used to swim. Of course we didn't have
swim suits so we were all in the raw. Some kids snuck up on
us and stole our clothes - running off with them. Well, all
we could do was get out of the water and chase them. When
we were about 25 feet from them, they dropped our clothes
and ran off. I've often thought how funny that would have
been to have a picture of that happening! We had a lot of
fun as kids at Bates.
Rial Green Update: 4-1-2009
Was snowing in Bates with snow on the ground this
morning. Burrrrrr! Poor robins have to be pretty depressed.
We have a small lull in posting Bates-Austin memories the
last few days so I thought I would make mention of something that I may
be a bit late on.
If anyone who has read Rial Green’s posts and were
blessed by them in any way, I would like to encourage you to fire him
off an email, and let him know you appreciate him. More than likely, he
may be in his final moments of being in his worn out body, and will be
taking an extended vacation to another dimension. He wrote back in
mid-winter that the doctors didn’t give him many more months to live,
and he has given MUCH to this board for the younger generation to
receive from in years to come. Personally, I wish I lived closer to
this grand gentleman. I would be so blessed to spend some time with him
in his last days of this life. I've written him a number of emails over
the last few weeks, and have not heard back from him. If anyone else
has, and he's okay, please let the board know, okay? Thanks
(Don on #7: Click on photo to
Endecott 02-22-2009: Norm - you asked what
my most memorable experience was when I lived at Bates.
most memorable experiences would be when my dad, Emmet, and I would go
on a Sunday-together-ride on the # 7 SHAY (steam locomotive), and go to
the wood yard below Bates at Placer Gulch and wood the # 7 up -- get her
ready for the run down the river the next day -- and some times he would
say, "Ok - get over on the engineer's side and
Nearly 70 years ago ... at 8 years old
... with the throttle in your hand - that was just about as close to
heaven as you could get! But sometimes I would get a little over
exited, and give her too much throttle, and Dad would say it was time
for me to let him run her, and I would go over on the fireman’s side and
pretend I was running her from there. Yes - those were wonderful
In the summer time, once school was
out, we would stay at the railroad camp in a camp car. That way Dad did
not have a long way to go to be together with his family, and on a
weekend, we would ride to Bates on the # 7. Mom - my 2 brothers and
sister up in the cab heading for town, and Dad pulling around 25 to 30
loaded log cars for the mill. How special that was.
one particular trip going up the river, Dad hit a soft spot on a fill
and # 7 jumped the track. That in itself would have been no problem,
but on the fill, the ground was soft and the 7 was sinking, and there
was a good chance she could have turned over. But as luck would have
it, Dad heard a logging cat. He made a bee line and got Dallas Fraser
(who was running the cat), and they put a bull line from the cat to the
steam dome on the 7 to steady her up. Then it was an easy job to use
the frogs to get the 7 back on the track. We got back aboard and went
on into town. Just a typical day on the railroad.
The 7 never was tipped over. She
jumped the track a few times but never hurt anyone. She is still
running in a train park on about 3 miles of track in a little place
called La Porte, Indiana. I went back there in 2007, and they gave me
the privilege to once again pull the throttle of that old girl. It was
like I was suddenly in some sort of time warp ... the sounds ... the
smells ... just like it was back when I was a young boy on 7 when she
was at Bates ... and I am sure my Dad was there with me also.
some video footage of Don on the # 7 Shay taken in 2007 that you may
Don was born at Austin in 1931. The first
time he left Bates was in 1942. He came back to Bates at different
times - ending out his work career at Bates driving a log truck from
1963 - 1965. I asked Don if he could share any logging truck memories,
and here are some:
I had a few wild times driving truck
there at Bates. I was hauling logs by train one time up the Dry Fork.
It was real steep, and after you were loaded, it was a wild ride to
town. The trucks had water breaks, so about half way down the hill, you
ran out of water. Then the brakes would get real hot and fade on you,
so the rest of the way off the hill was a control run away.
We were down at Camp Creek. There
were steep hills on that run as well. When the water breaks would fade
to nothing, there were the best drivers coming off the hill. You always
knew that the ones coming up empty would keep out of your way -- except
one time a new driver thought he could make a turn out coming up empty.
As I was coming down loaded, I could not stop, and he was on the inside,
so instead of having a head-on collision, or whatever could happen -- to
keep that from happening -- I put the truck over the bank; dumped the
load; put the truck on her side. To say the least, that was not a good
day, but they sent a cat and loader down, and got me back on the road.
They reloaded the logs, and except for a broken mirror, I was back on
the road again and made a another trip that day.
I can't say enough about the loading
crew. They could put a load of logs on the truck ... if you saw one
coming down the road, you would think: How could anyone put that many
logs on any truck?! We hauled a lot of big loads.
My only bad time was when a good
friend of mine, Don King, was killed behind my truck loading logs. I
think about him quite a bit, and also I had two uncles killed there.
One was loading logs, and the other was unloading logs. Even with all
the wonderful times we had, there were some bad ones to.
Back to trains: Here are some
comments/memories from my brother, Elvin Endecott, you might be
interested in posting for others to read. He passed away last year, and
I know he would want others to be able to have access to them. This is
dialogue between Elvin and Casey Carlson, a fellow train enthusiast.
My brother Elvin
I started in 1936 when I was 16 years
old, firing the # 102 laying steel up the river. Pay was 45 cents an
hour if I remember right. I was lucky to get the job as it was still
during the depression. I never would have got it had it not been for my
dad. He started on the Sumpter Valley when he was 15 on the big cut
there in Austin, then he became a brakeman on the Sumpter when he was
19. He got into some trouble and got fired; then went to work on the
logging roads. He brought the longest train into Bates -- 35 ends. And
end is two singles, so basically it was two loads on one car.
I was working out on Camp Creek and #
102 got out of control - runaway train! I'm telling you ... it's quite
a trick to find a place to jump where you won't roll back into the train
when you are going down a mountain fast and it's at night! As luck
would have it - just before deciding to jump - the last car on the train
derailed, and that drug us down ... and we got things calmed down.
Another time when I was engineering,
I was pushing a couple of cars up to Camp Sheldon with # 104 and I laid
her against the bank. The cars were behind the tender and I was backing
up the hill. We started to go into a curve and I felt the engine start
to lean. I walked over to the middle of the gangway, because I felt
something was going wrong. Jack Frasier had been working on the track
all summer, and he had gotten laid off the day before. I knew if
anything went wrong, they couldn't blame him.
Anyway, the engine started to go over
and I told the conductor to get out, which he did. But my fireman froze
in the door, so I helped him out with my FOOT, and followed.
The next day we came up with the #
102 and the Cats (Short for Catapillar tractors for you city folk)
to pick her up. They put two Cats above her and one below with cables
attached underneath the tender and the smokebox, I believe. The Cat
below gave a tug and the other two eased her down. The whole rescue
effort didn't last more than ten minutes and the only damage to the
engine was a cracked elbow on her exhaust pipe near the smokebox.
I was on the 102 bringing her back
down into camp, and I told my fireman to go back on the 104. "If she
starts shoving real hard on me, reverse her to help me out."
Fortunately I got 'em both down fine. The 104 ran for another week
before going back to town.
I never killed anyone but my uncle
did. He was bringing a trainload of steel down from Prairie when it got
away from him. There were Japanese riding the cars and one poor guy
jumped off onto a hill and rolled back into the train. A journal box
hit him in the head and killed him.
My uncle got killed at the log pond
at Bates. They were unloading and he unloaded one trip chain, but for
some reason the others wouldn't let go. Even though the hogger said not
to ... he hit the chain with a hammer, and the logs hit him. He didn't
die outright. They put him in a boxcar and hooked the 10 spot to it and
made a run for the hospital in Prairie City. He died the next morning.
One Saturday my dad, Emmet, had to
pull a train out of the camp we were in. Mom said she wasn't going to
wait for him to come back to do the shopping and so she was going to
town. Dad took the train into the woods. Pretty soon here comes the
104, and of course Mom knew the crew: she was related to them. They
were going to town, so of course they let Mom ride with them. She had
her little baby in her arms, and the fireman, John Combs, let her ride
his seat. They got to going down the hill - pulling a train behind
them. Pretty soon, my Mom says, "Do you feel her slide? Plain as
day!" The engineer and the hogger didn't say anything.
Pretty soon she felt her slide again,
and she said so. Then the hogger realized they were running away and
started working her in the back motion. They were moving along at a
pretty good clip and the engineer said, "Pick a spot to jump! Make sure
you don't roll back into the train!" To Mom he yelled, "John will take
your baby, but don't jump quite yet!"
After a couple of minutes things
slacked off and he got her under control. It's a good thing too,
because Mom wouldn't have jumped. After that she only rode engines with
I was working on the Western Pacific
out of Stockton right after Brooks Scanlon went out of business. My
uncle and I applied for a job with the WP and the next day we got a
telegram to report for work ASAP. This was during the war and all the
railroads were shorthanded. You could quit one job at breakfast and
have another job by lunch.
My first student trip was out of
Oroville to Stockton if I remember right, and it was foggy. The whole
crew on that train wasn't much older that I was. We had a rookie
fireman and brakeman and hogger that hadn't been running more than a
year. I took a seat on the sandbox to watch things. We started out and
everything was going okay until our first meet. We took the hole, and
while we were sitting there the engineer kept looking at his orders, his
timetable, his watch ... over and over again.
Pretty soon he says, "I don't know
what the hell I was thinking! We can make the next siding. Get the
So the gateman got off, threw the
switch, and we started out. We got the engine and part of the train on
the main when all of a sudden the hogger reached up, slammed his
throttle shut; hit the independent and horsed the power reverse over!
He really must have woke the guys in the crummy up. We no sooner got
back into the siding and the brakeman still threw the switch back to the
main ... then here comes a train barreling out of the fog! We couldn't
see her headlight until she was right on top of us! That was the
closest I've ever come to dying on a train.
Then of course I've been hurt a
couple of times - probably worst was once when I was wooding up that old
# 7. As soon a business dropped off, the brakie was the first to go.
But when he was there, he helped the fireman wood up on his side, while
the conductor and the engineer wooded up their side. Things had slacked
off and I was loading wood all by myself on my side. I laid a piece of
wood from the ground to the gangway to walk up with my load of wood. I
got this great big armful of wood and start walking up this piece of
wood to walk up to unload my wood and when I had one foot in the gangway
with the other foot still on the wood, the darn thing broke! I turned
as I fell and landed on the corner of the gangway going into the cab, on
my tailbone. Boy did it hurt! I didn't tell anyone and finished the
day. But then it got so bad I couldn't roll over in the bed. So I went
to the Doc in Baker and he put a ray lamp on it and said I wasn't going
to work for a week. They fixed me up pretty good but when I went into
the Navy they said, "That's some neck you got down there!" Ha, leave it
to the Navy.
Then another time we pulled into Big
Boulder with the # 7, and I had my fire built up real heavy for the
grade ahead. For some reason the woods train was delayed so my dad told
me to cap the stack so we wouldn't pop off. I did and I think we ate
lunch. Pretty soon the train of logs came in and Dad said, "Take the
cap off and we'll go." So I went up and PUSHED the cap off across to
the other side. Well - instead of smoke coming out of the stack it was
fire! That burned my arm pretty good but I never pushed it across
I remember once when I was firing the
# 100 on Bear Creek. The hogger, that damn b&%$#@d - his family and
mine never got along, and he decided to take it out on me, the punk
kid. We started up the hill outside of Galena and he had the throttle
wide open and the bar in the corner. I was able to keep up with him on
the steam, but I kept losing water. I told him to ease off or we would
run out of water, because my injector was on wide and and we were still
losing water. He kept going, and when we topped the hill that plug let
go! It sounded like a pop went off in the firebox. We both knew what
had happened and the conductor went back and tied down all the brakes on
the empties, and we started downhill. After awhile I decided I had
better take a look in there and see what was going on, and it was a good
thing I did because those logs were starting to burn again! I got the
tongs and they stopped the train while I dumped the fire. Then Lou
Smith, the master mechanic, came up and wanted to know what had
happened. The engineer blamed it on me and I was about to get fired,
but thank God the conductor stood up for me and told Lou how I had my
injector wide open and the hogger was beating her so hard it couldn't
keep up. He went on to tell how the engineer wouldn't turn his gun on
or ease up. Lou straightened that engineer out good!
The typical day started out
about seven if we were the day crew. We'd get the engine back up to
steam since the night crew had usually tied up a couple of hours
before. I'd get on and blow her water glass out and test her gauge
cocks. Any dern fool can tell you whether there is plenty of water or
not; steam and water make completely different sounds. After we got up
to steam, we'd blow her down, opening the valve for about two seconds,
then waiting until she settled, and do it again a couple of times. The
Oregon Lumber Co. was real particular about taking care of them
boilers. We washed them out every couple of weeks, but we put a lot of
water in from the creeks. We had a boiler treatment, like put a cup of
this stuff in or throw one of the little balls in after taking water.
Then we would start out,
engine on the front of the train - tender first, hauling about 15
empties behind us. The # 7 was almost always the engine since she was
the road loco. It was 23 miles to the nearest reload point. We'd pull
in and drop off our empties, and take the train of logs. We'd take wood
and water at Big Boulder, and the 101 and the 102 would usually couple
on to the end of the train to help us into Bates. We'd usually be doing
fine until we got to the gorge; right across from the DeWitt Ranch we'd
usually hang up. If Dad was in a good mood, we'd buck slack; if not,
we'd double the hill. If we'd buck slack he'd back up to get slack,
then horse the bar over and reef on the throttle - all the way through
the gorge and sometimes up to the meadow at Bates. Surprisingly, even
with all that slack action, we never broke anything. Then we'd dump the
logs into the pond and with the steam shovel. We brought about 60 cars
down every 24 hours with two trains. The fireman would run the engine
and the engineer the steam shovel dumping the logs.
After we dumped the logs, if
we were the day crew, we'd turn it over to the night crew. If we were
the night crew, and it was winter time we'd pull up to the engine
house. Then I'd fill the firebox with wood clear up to the crown sheet,
put on the injector until it flooded out, and cap the stack. Then I'd
get the heaters going on the injector - you know - close the the
overflow valve (?). Get them going so you could barely hear them "kick"
in the tender. This way things didn't freeze. It wasn't uncommon to
have 100 pounds of steam in the morning and water still in the glass.
It worked real good.
An amazing thing is that
with all those wood burners we had over there and all the trains we had,
we never set any fires. We put a screen on the stack before we left
Bates and that seemed to do the trick. But you had to take them off
once in awhile and beat 'em with a rock or stick to clean them so you
could keep the engine drafting well.
One night I was on the 102
as a helper going through the gorge and my fireman looked at me and
said, "I can't make no steam no matter what!" I told him, "Well go up
and beat the stack." Well ... the Forest Service superintendant was
right along side us on the road and when we pulled into Bates he said,
"I could have you fired for what you did tonight. Did you SEE all those
sparks that came out of the stack when he beat it?!" Luckily he kind of
laughed about it. The Forest Service cleared brush all summer and burned
it in the fall. Evidently whatever they did worked.
Those locomotive engines
had personalities, I'm telling you! Take the 101 and the 102 for
example. The 101 ran like a top - steamed like a house afire. The 102
steamed hard and didn't ride as nice. But the 102 had been wrecked a
number of times. Her cab had been replaced and all sorts of stuff. The
two were sisters, but couldn't be more different. Then the 100 was a
real good Heisler. They bought her new and she was designed pretty good
I think. She rode and steamed better than the 104. Of course the 104
was alright, considering she had been cut down from standard gauge.
Then that little 105 was okay; her firebox was so small they had to cut
special wood for her. Something you ought to know is that short pieces
of wood - like what you use between the back of your firebox and the end
of your cordwood, are called grousers.
The master mechanic's name
was Lou Smith and he came from La Grande where he worked for UP in the
20's. He really knew his stuff and kept our engines in good shape.
Like I say, we washed them boilers out every Sunday two weeks apart. Do
the tubes first and work our way back and down. Then close her up and
fill her with water, light the fire and go eat dinner. Come back and
you'd have enough steam for her blower.
Every once in awhile they
would have to take an engine into McKims down at Baker. Dad took the
DWP engines down every once in awhile and I can think of at least two
times he and Claude Green took the # 7 into Baker. One time they did
and my mom and I were supposed to follow them in and pick them up.
Well, it had snowed about six inches the night before and froze so the
roads weren't too good, and we were going over Dooley Mountain. Mom was
driving and of course was a skookum driver since she'd been living in
logging camps and the high country for years. We went into this one
curve that was slightly elevated, and when we did the car just slid into
the snowbank on the inside of the curve. I could look over mom's lap
and down the mountain and it was at least a mile straight down with not
even a tree to stop anything! I told Mom we had to get out, but she had
to get out first because it was my weight that was holding the car up.
So I managed to get my door opened and stood on the footboard and used
the door as a lever while Mom slip out past me. Once she got out I let
go and the car just stayed there. Pretty soon a fellow came along in a
truck and took us into to Baker.
You know that whistle over
there on your Heisler? Well, I'll tell you about it. The Oregon Lumber
Co. bought a two truck shay, their # 105. That engine was being shipped
on a barge when it fell off into the water, and they let it sit there
for a long time. Finally they pulled it out and they rebuilt her, and
when they did they put a new whistle on her. That whistle was off a
tugboat they were scrapping. Then along about 1938, the Japs bought the
105, 10, and 103 and a flatcar of old wheels for scrap. I fired that
train into Austin. Anyway, they took the # 105's whistle off and put it
on the 102. When the 102 was sold that whistle went in a box in the
Austin engine house where my brother picked it up when they were tearing
everything down. The bullet holes got there from a fireman I had one
day. He had a .22 and when we were drifting down a grade he said, "I'll
bet I can hit that whistle." I told him he had better not but BAMM!
Idiot did! My brother Don got it out of the Austin engine house when
they were tearing it down.
Yeah - I rode the mallets a
couple of times with Mike Welter, and I remember one time I rode with
him on the # 20 out of Whitney. We must have had 20 cars with the 19 on
the end of the train. A. B. Jackson was the engineer, but I can't
remember who the firemen were. I sat on the left hand seat box all day
except to help them wood up and stuff. Mike ran up the first hill and
then switched with his fireman on the second. That way they both got
some rest. He had the 20 loaded up all the way to the door and he
didn't have any trouble at all.
Then when they ran the 250
for the first time up to Austin they brought the 19 up with her, mainly
because they were scared of that big mallett. But she was just a
simple articulated; sounded just like a doubleheader when she ran.
Beavers and Mike were on the 250 and Jackson was on the 19 if I remember
right. I remember when they came in it caused quite a commotion that
was quite something else with all that power we had up there then. All
that geared power and the rod engines. At first the mallets were kind
of slippery, but they got that fine tuned. The guys just had to get
used to them mainly.
One time I was riding the
caboose up Larch and old Beavers was on the front with 250. She slipped
and all the slack ran in, and then he got some sand under her and got
her back on her feet and yanked all the slack back out. Well, it ripped
the nails right out of the stove! That was some bad slack action!
The first trip I ever fired
was on 102 pulling a camp train out of Whitney. We started out with a
cook car, bunk car, shower car and several others. John Combs was
engineer and we were really clipping along the flats out of Whitney. I
couldn't get my injector started and we were really losing steam. John
was starting to grumble and got his gun on and I started throwing wood.
We started up the hill and about a mile or so later we slowed down and
let the brakeman off to throw us into a siding. No sooner than had we
stopped when here came the 19 poking around a curve on the passenger.
When they saw we were in the clear they whistled and away they went. If
I hadn't got the steam back up as quick as I did we would have been out
of a job!
I spent a lot of time there
at Austin, and when I was young I used to play on the engines there in
the roadhouse. The Prairie passenger would leave as a freight in the
morning, make their run to Prairie with a couple boxcars and whatnot and
a caboose. They would drop them off and pick up the passenger at the
depot and run up to meet the Bates passenger at Bates. Then they would
run back to Prairie and drop off the passenger, pick up the freight, and
come back to Austin. (To be continued ...)
Tom McGinnis 02-21-2009:
A couple of Bates memories come to mind. Do you remember when we were
just kids in Bates, and it was winter and very cold. The snow plow had
pushed all the snow against the garages at the end of our road. You and
I were jumping off the top or the garages into the snow, and my Dad
caught us and took a bunch of willows and beat my back side all the way
home. I had welts for a month.
Then there was the time we
shot our very first porcupine. I think I shot half of a box of shells
through my .22, and I think you shot it with a few more shells than I
did. (The only small animal that was harder to kill was a Badger).
When we killed it, you and I skinned it, and boy did it stink! We
showed him off to everyone we could in town, and then we put him up in
your back yard where we though it would be safe. Low and behold -
somehow the dogs got it and packed it off. We were going to use the
quills for something or other, but your dad put them in a box and took
When you think about it ...
what an adventure for a couple of seven year olds. When I was 10, Dad
and I hiked with one of his friends, Mrs. Ford and a daughter, into Blue
Lake above Council, Idaho. Mrs. Ford kept falling down during the four
and a half miles of the five mile hike, and ended up braking her leg.
So a one day trip turned into an overnight stay. We had no food, so I
make three lean-twos against the rocks and built up a big fire, while
Dad (Fred) went hunting. He found a porcupine, which he killed and
skinned and tried to tell me it was a rabbit but, I remembered the smell
from our encounter at Bates!
The next morning we tried to
get the fish to bite and they would not, so Dad said we would use "lead
sinkers." We went down to the spillway and saw the fish swimming, so
Dad took out his .38 Special and told me to strip down - which I did -
and he shot the fish. I swam out and got them so we had something to
eat. We cut them and roasted them on a willow, and I could not believe
how good fish could taste when you are really hungry. We made a litter
and packed Mrs. Ford out, which took all day to cover the five miles.
Do you remember the time
that your Brother Floyd and one of his friends were with us, and we were
going along the creek bank and found a green spear head, and a yellow
arrowhead, and four obsidian arrowheads -- and Floyd said he would take
care of them -- and I was wondering if you ever saw them again. For me
this started a desire to collect Indian artifacts. I have a large
collection or old octagon barreled rifles. Some were owned by Indians,
and are quite nice. .38-55 caliber is one. I have spears, bows,
tomahawks, beads, grinding tables and stones. I also have a large
collection of swords. This all started with that simple day on the
river. I can tell that I must be getting old with all of the stories
that are going through my head of the past.
Tom: You think YOU must
be getting old?! I don't remember us finding those arrowheads period!
Have no idea what brother Floyd might have done with them. I'll ask him
next time I talk with him. What do you figure they might be worth on
Ebay? I could donate the proceeds to the Bates Friendly Park fund -
Richard (Dobie) Shoun
02-14-2009: (Email to Dr. Mick that Richard gave his permission
Dr. Mick - I'm not sure if you
remember me, as it's been a few years since we've seen each other. We
went to High School together, although you were a grade ahead of me. I
just wanted to contact you as I found this web site you've set up with
pictures and articles of Bates and the surrounding area's. I'm just
blown away with what you have done. It brings back so many memories
growing up in Prairie City and going to Bates during High School, until
the mill was closed with the town being dismantled. Those days will
always be some of the best times of my life growing up over there. All
the Bates kids (especially the girls) I went to High School with and
there parents who always were so supportive, and made you feel like part
of the family. If I ever had a time of my life I'd like to re-live ...
it would be then.
I have been living in the Tualatin
(Oregon) area just south of Portland ever since I graduated from the
University of Oregon in 1976. I've raised two children and still reside
here until my wife retires from Xerox and then we will be relocating to
Bend where I have my business. In the meanwhile, I've never lost my
connection with Eastern Oregon, as I'm over there as often as I can.
I just purchase our old home back I
was raised in last year. It's just down the street where I was born, so
my roots are well planted there. The house is next to Greg Smith's grand
parents home where he was raised. I remember Greg when he lived there. I
got to talk to him at the 2005 class reunion. I see he's been quite
involved with what's been going on with the Park and has some very
interesting articles and pictures about the area.
When I go home, I always take a ride
over Dixie to Bates. I like to walk the site and just enjoy the
surroundings as I did growing up. Every once in a while I will run into
someone I knew and we'd have a great conversation about the past. I'm
hoping I'll run into Norm, as I see he's been there a lot over the
I'm looking forward to the reunion
this summer (2009). The Park will be nice when it is completed. I'm just
sorry it's taken so long, as a
lot of the people who live there are no longer with us, and it would
have been great for them to enjoy it.
I wanted to mention - I have some
pictures I would like to send you. They are of different things that
went on in Grant County. Also, my older brother "big Mike" took movies
of Bates and surrounding area when he worked there. I have contacted him
to send them to me. These were taken in the late 60's and early 70's. I
will get them converted to DVD's or whatever you need, so you can add
them to your web site.
I look forward to many more good
times in Bates and will get back to you soon. (Richard: So will
many be excited about seeing YOU! Thanks so much for writing! -
Richard (Dobie) Shoun
Gregg Smith: 2-9-2009:
Rial - do you know anything about a CCC camp that was located near
Rial Green: 2-9-2009:
The CCC camp was near the junction about a mile west on the road to
Baker. Clinton Fanning was very young then so he probably does not
remember it. A lot of the local boys joined up there. Most of the boys
were from western states and locally. Army officers were in charge of
the camp. A little later a camp was established down the river from
Bates at a place we called Desolation - which was very wild country and
a good place to hunt. The men sent to that camp were from the streets
of New York and Chicago. They were a wild bunch; according to some of
them, one of their party tried to rob the mail car between New York and
Chicago and was jailed in Chicago. They were put on the Sumpter valley
passenger train in Baker to go to Bates and then loaded in trucks to go
down the river. On their way from Baker City to Bates they were having
fun; they depanted one guy and threw his pants out the back. He pulled
the emergency cord and the train stopped and waited for him to go back
and get his pants.
When the train pulled into
Bates, some of them were riding on top of the engine, tooting the
whistle and ringing the bell. The train crew was glad to get rid of
them. None of them had been out in the woods so us kids told them that
where they were going to Desolation, they would be around cougars and
bears and they worried about the animals a lot. Tthese tough kids could
have fought a grizzly with a switchblade they were so tough ,,, and we
had them scared of mountain lions, etc!
The local CCC boys worked around our area building trails and fighting
forest fires and some buildings for the forest service. All of the CCC
boys only got $35.00 per month, of which they had to send $30.00 home to
their folks, so they had only $5.00 for tobacco and stuff at the camp
Post exchange for themselves. The $30.00 helped many families get by
during the depression. Some of the families had jobs and would send the
$30.00 back to their sons. They were the lucky ones who had money to
We saw a lot of them at our local Saturday dances, The girls liked
them a lot but there some fights with the locals.
Bates Norm Guy: 2-6-2009:
It's been rather quiet here for a spell so I thought I'd post a story
someone sent me. I don't know how true it is, but strange and amazing
things have been known to happen from folks who once lived at Bates.
The story is titled:
A young man who reportedly lived in Bates at one time went off to
college. Half way through the semester, he foolishly squandered all his
He called home. "Dad," he says, "You won't believe what modern
education is developing. They actually have a program here on
campus that will teach our dog, Ol' Blue
how to talk!"
"That's amazing," his Dad said. "How do I get
Ol' Blue in that program?"
"Just send him down here with $1,000" the young man says. "I'll
get him in the course."
So, his father sends the dog and $1,000.
About two-thirds of the way through the semester, the money again
runs out. The boy calls home.
"So how's Ol' Blue doing son?" his
“Awesome, Dad; he's talking up a storm!" he answers. "But you just
won't believe this. They've had such good results they have
started to teach the animals how to
"Read!?" exclaims his father, "No kidding! How do we get
Blue in that
"Just send $2,500. I'll
get him in the class."
The money promptly arrives. But our Eastern Oregon hero has a problem.
At the end of the year, his father
will find out the dog can neither talk, nor
read. So he shoots the dog.
When he arrives home at the end of the year, his father is all
excited. "Where's Ol' Blue?
I just can't wait to see him read
something and talk!"
"Dad," the boy says, "I have some grim news. Yesterday morning …
just before we left to drive home, Ol'
Blue was in the living room ...
kicked back in the recliner, reading the Wall Street Journal ...
like he usually does. Then he
turned to me and asked, "So, is your daddy
still messing' around with that little redhead who lives in John
The father exclaimed, "I hope you shot that son-of-a-#%@&# before he
talks to your Mother!"
"I sure did, Dad!"
"That's my boy!"
The former Bates lad went on to be a lawyer, and word has it that he
went on to become a politician in high places.
For many years people would drive up the road above the
Bates spring on the south side of Knuteville and dump
their trash alongside the road. (You could follow that
road all the way to Phipps Meadow.) Later they would
dump their trash over a rocky cliff just north of the
"Y" (Called the AUSTIN INN now) on the Bridge Creek
If you would go up the road
to the ridge top above Oz White's (on Clear Creek), you
would find that the oldest dump was up there on top of
the ridge. The road casually snaked along the ridge to
the "Y." I think they moved the dump from that location
because getting up that steep road beside Oz White's was
difficult in the winter, or when the road was muddy.
Do you remember there was a flat field right in back of
that "Y" dump site that was a baseball field? You had
to turn in beside the "Y," or go just around it and up
the hill. We used to put signs up at the "Y" so people
could get there. We had a big wooden backstop built.
Most of the players were older high school kids and some
just out of school. One of the pitchers worked for the
State Highway Dept. He threw side arm and was a very
good pitcher. We called him Spider. Jack Reid was
another pitcher. I played first base - same as in high
school. I played on the Bates town team in 1954 and
1955, and we had our home games there. We had a good
team and played Unity, Herford, Prairie City, John Day
and Seneca. The beer flowed after each game.
Bates Guy Norm:
There were wild cats at the dump that kept the mice
population thinned out. I'll bet you never remember
ever seeing a mouse at the dump, did you? Some guys
would shoot at those cats, so the kitty-cats became very
weary when a person showed up. If you carried a gun ...
those cats could go from 0-60 MPH in less than 5 seconds
across the top of trash to find their escape tunnel.
George: When they widened the highway to Prairie
City in the 1990's, they dumped all the big rock and
dirt on top of the dump and buried it.
Bates Buy Norm:
God rest the souls of those poor kitty-cats that were
hiding deep in their escape tunnels when it was being
covered over with tons of debris. Mice don't have
souls, so no need to grieve for them.
Dr. Mick W:
12-17-2008: After reading the memory posts on this
site and performing maintenance on Bates Photos, I'm
convinced that we lived in the "best days". We may have
been poor in terms of income, but we were indeed rich in
terms of faith and moral compass. America may have a
future...a future that is at best ill-defined. I do know
that America had a past...a past that was fun with a flame
that illuminated a bright future. America's flame, over
time and incompetent leadership, has been extinguished. I
fear we now walk in darkness. Well, so much for my
philosophical diatribe this evening. I just want you to
know that I truly value the friendship of the constant
presence of so many of you in these difficult times.
Dr. Mick: I believe the secret
to solve America's problems lies in the wisdom of the
Friends of Bates State Park Committee. However, wisdom is
not to found down there where they sit up easy chairs under
RV awnings, sipping icy-cold Orange Crush, munching on
peanuts and tator chips. One must climb up the hill and sit
smack dab on the top of Big Rock, and wait for wisdom to
descend from above. Sometimes one must sit there a long
time before it downloads, but eventually, it will come.
(Tip: Take a roll of
toilet paper with you when you go up there, in case of any
delay. Pine cones are neat to look at, and make fancy
artwork out of, and that's ALL!).
Dr. Mick W: 12-17-2008:
Billie Jo ...You asked
in an email yesterday if I remembered the large swings near your
home in Knuteville. Absolutely, and as I recall, it was very
large with a total of three single swings on one "A" frame. I
remember playing on that swing many times and was sorry to hear
that it was torn down one Halloween. It was a gathering place
for many Bates & Knuteville kids…we would spend many hours
there. I also remember playing baseball in the cow pasture. I
rounded third many times while dodging a number of fresh cow
No problem sliding into Home
Plate...provided you found the right cow pie and then timed it
Dr. Mick ... I think more people would watch Professional
Baseball if the players had to dodge cow pies like WE did!
Shucks - running the bases ... ANYONE can do (who has the
ability to run, of course). But dodging cow pies without
getting thrown out ... now that requires
skill! Speaking of cow pies ... my dear departed mother grew
some of the best tasting strawberries there in Bates I've ever
tasted. But she had a "secret" that I will now reveal. She
would make her children go out into the cow pasture/baseball
field and scoop up the oldest cow pies to mix them in the garden
soil. Fertilizer from a bag or can wasn't even a consideration
on her part. Of course, us kids who were assigned this task
REFUSED to scoop up cow pies during the daylight hours, for fear
of what our friends might think. Thus we scooped cow pies
covertly after dark. The difficulty in all this was that one
had to be very, very careful while walking in the dark to NOT
step in a freshly deposited cow pie. If that happened, which it
did from time to time, one found oneself looking up at the stars
Yep - we had many challenges to
overcome while growing up in Bates. Personally, in learning the
skill of dodging cow pies in the dark, it kept me from stepping
on mines in Vietnam. As one develops one's sense of smelling a
fresh cow pie in the dark before stepping in it - one also
learns to sense a nearby landmine before stepping on it.
Landmines you can't smell, but you can learn to pick up the
faint odor of sweat molecules from the person who placed the
mine there, hoping it wouldn't blow up in their face.
I sent an email to the Top Dog
commander in Iraq awhile back, offering my services in helping
conduct courses in teaching our troops how to detect fresh camel
poop in the dark for the purpose of learning how to hone one's
smelling capabilities to thus avoid driving over landmines, but
I've yet to hear anything back on the matter. Least I gave it
the old Bates try ...
I must confess that I get a bit "pushy" with certain people who
dare to email me, asking them to share old memories, and Billie
Jo George (Raines) happens to be one of them, bless her heart.
Here is a short email from her, and I'll respond to her
Billie Jo: You
are always wanting us to remember ... here's one for you ...
something I bet you both (Dr. Mick) have forgotten. How much
fun did you have at the old swing that was across the road from
our house? (By the telephone house). You know - the giant one
that someone pushed over on Halloween one year and it never got
replaced. I remember you guys used to put a long board through
the ropes that held the individual swing sets and the whole town
of kids could set on it and swing.
Norm answer: Wow
- BJ - you are correct. I had totally forgotten about that old
swing! That swing brought so much happiness to so many kids,
didn't it? How terrible it was the swing got wrecked too. I
remember that particular Halloween. The youth out that night
were filled with the devilment, and I was along with them, I'm
ashamed to say. I remember the swing going over, and I remember
someone sort of got hung up on it somehow, and was hoisted into
the air briefly. I don't remember who that was now. Out-houses
got tipped over that night; roadblocks got put in the road to
keep the school bus from going to Prairie City the next day; a
group put a Willie's Jeep OVER the fence and onto the lawn near
the grade school flag pole, and the night ended out in a gang
war of sorts. I don't remember who all it was that remained,
but some of the guys got into a fight, and I think once that
happened, everyone decided they had better go home and cool
down, because things were getting way out of hand. Now BJ, the
question IS ... were you home behaving that night,
handing out goodies to the little kiddies who knocked at your
door, or were you out with the local Bates "terrorists" that
night, ripping up the town?
I don't know; do you
remember what year it was? There was one Halloween I didn't get
to go Trick-or-Treating, because I had hurt my leg when I fell
across the ditch going to school. Mom and Dad took me to the
doctor in John Day, who sent us to some quack in Pendleton, who
told them I had polio, so I spent that Halloween confined to a
wheel chair. I spent all that year either in that chair or on
crutches. Then Dad got mad at the doctor in Pendleton and took
me to a different Doctor. All it was, was a very badly torn
muscle in my leg. With a little therapy and exercise, it
started to heal. I got off the crutches the day school was out,
and came down with the 3-days measles the next day. Needless to
say, I was not a happy camper. All I wanted to do was go
outside and play.
Norm answer: I'm
guessing that particular Halloween was around 1959 - 1962.
Bummer with what happened to you and that quack doctor in
Pendleton, BJ. What say next Halloween we go to his gravesite
and spit Copenhagen 'bacca juice on his tombstone?!
response: For you kids, I remember the board
swing at the Bates school. The board was about 5' or 6'
long. One kid would stand on each end, holding onto the chain.
Then they would pump. Three or four kids would sit in the
middle. Of course, sitting in the middle you had zero support.
As the 'pumpers' would take the swing higher and higher the
sitting kids were at their mercy. I remember sitting on the
board and being terrified that I would fall off.
More questions to Rial:
Do you remember any bear and/or cougar stories from the
A man named Carl (last name
forgotten) had a couple of logging horses in an old garage up
the road from Bates about 1/2 mile. He asked Cowboy Busby and
me to take them to the trough set up in front of the Bates store
and service station for the winter .. and water them. While we
were gone, he climbed up in the brush across the road from the
temporary barn and Marion Busby (Cowboy's younger sister) sat in
front of the barn in a buckboard. When we came back, riding the
horses, Carl started shaking the brush and had Marion shout
out: "IT'S A COUGAR - IT'S A COUGAR!"
Cowboy and I tried to get the horses to run but they just poked
along. We were about to get down and teach them how to run when
Carl came out laughing. He had constantly told us cougar
stories and had us spooked.
What he was using as a barn had been a garage for two or three
cars. Chet and Rocky John's parents had just the month before
bought a new Model A ford sedan. At the time, it was a
beautiful car. Some other fellows had an older car in the garage
and were gassing it up with a gasoline can when it caught fire
and burned up the John's new car. They got their car out but
the John's car was in gear and they couldn't push it out. Later
I found in the ashes a funnel with a cigarette butt stuck in
it. They must have been smoking as they poured the gas and
dropped the lit cigarette from their mouth.
questions to Rial:
Did you ever do much fishing while you lived in the Bates-Austin
We fished a lot in the river,
and Clear Creek. During the steelhead run and the salmon run
all the men and boys gigged salmon, which later became unlawful.
We fished in Strawberry lake, Olive lake and Magone Lake, over
by Prairie City.
One time we were camped at the campground one mile from
Strawberry lake, and a State Policeman parked there and walked
up to the lake to check the fishermen. One of our party had a
car bomb which we wired up in the cop's car. When he came back
from the lake, his engine was missing and when he raised the
hood, the bomb went off. We laughed so hard! Ge got mad and
slammed the hood down and took off with the car still missing on
one cylinder. Every one told me to get in the tent or he might
arrest me, but I couldn't get up; I was laughing so hard.
More questions to Rial:
Where did everyone swim who lived there? Any memorable
We used a beaver dam, or sometimes built our own dam out in the
field. One summer, a small circus came to town, and there were
several big strong black men workers, putting up the tents, etc.
We told them about our swimming hole and several of them came,
and we all went swimming naked. We didn't know it but the women
in the row of houses next to Clear Creek could look out the
kitchen window and see naked white kids and black men running
around in the field and diving in the water. What a thrill for
all those housewives!
Another time Eileen Endicott's brother rode his horse down from
Austin. He had a .22 rifle with him, and he unloaded the gun,
and they were playing-like shooting boys diving in. After
awhile he reloaded the gun and one of the girls didn't know the
gun was loaded, and as Chuck Porrit dove in, she shot him in the
stomach. He got hauled to the hospital in Prairie City and was
in there a couple of weeks. He said that was the best time he
ever had; they gave him all the ice cream he wanted. He survived
that and grew up to be a big strong man.
My Dad wouldn't let me play with guns. I was taught never to
point a gun at anyone even if it was unloaded. I had my first
gun when I was 9 but could not take it out without one of my
parents until I was 12.
Norm questions to Rial:
12-06-08: What did people do there for amusement -
entertainment? I'm assuming they had dances now and then. What
were those dances like? Who played music? Was there a lot of
drinking going on; women chasing; men fighting? Were children
allowed to attend? Was New Years a typical time to have a blow
out dance party, like it always was when I lived in Bates from
roughly 1953 - 1966?
Rial: We had
frequent dances. Mrs. Kranenburg played the piano. Her youngest
son, Franz, played the sax, Mrs. Darrow played the violin, and
Clarence ( a memory lapse here) played the guitar. Quite good music
for dancing. We also had many house parties. Many people played
cards, especially the older folks.
One year when the AFL was trying to
organize, some of the company men started our own private union to
keep out the AFL. We paid 50 cents a month for dues. After quite
some time, the AFL was able to overcome this company union so we had
a meeting to decide what to do with all the 50 cents dues we all had
paid in. The married men voted to split up the money, but we single
men had more votes, and we voted to have a party. So all the women
in town saved up fruit juice to which was added 5 gallons of grain
alcohol, and we had 5 gallons of whisky and 17 cases of beer.
The juice drink was very potent - causing some people to get
aggressive and others to get dreamy. I was one of the dreamers.
Most of the men wore suits to these affairs, although some never
wore a tie with their suits. One man, Paul Carp - a nice young man
with a nice wife - walked in and Paul drank one tumbler of the juice
and fell over immediately ... so we carried him out to his car.
At midnight, the ladies served
midnight supper and we formed circles on the dance floor with a case
of beer in the middle. By that time Paul Carp had recovered and
came back in and sat in our circle where his wife was sitting. She
was a little tipsy, and after he sat down, she poured a bottle of
beer on his head. They were both giggling and he rolled around on
the dusty floor with his new suit and got all muddy. Later some men
were fighting outside, and with a bottle of beer in my mouth, I
walked out and someone threw another bottle and hit my bottle. I
still have a chipped tooth but no other damage.
All I can say it was some party; even
some of the women fought -- pulling hair -- and we would take them
out and put them over the railing and into the swampy ground to let
them cool down.
By Monday, everyone went back to work
and all was normal and forgotten. At some dances we had square
dances like the old West and one man who knew how to call the moves
took over. At some house parties a few of us would go and steal
chickens and the wife of that house would cook up a nice chicken
When a couple got married, we had a Shivaree; pounding on tubs or
garbage can lids until they invited us in for drinks. It was a
hassle for them sometimes but a lot of liquor was consumed.
Sometimes - I have heard of - they would kidnap the groom or bride
to foul up the first night for the couple, but we didn't do any
thing like that.
After the dances, us kids would pick up the empty flasks and sell
them to the bootleggers and get spending money. When our best
bootlegger, Kilgore, came to town in his Limo, you could hear
bottles and jugs rattle all over town as the kids ran with a sack of
flasks and gallon jugs to sell. He was the largest bootlegger, and
had his operation down the river from Bates. Big trucks came by at
night, bringing in grain and sugar and trucks came by at night
hauling whisky to Portland and Seattle. The revenuers never
bothered him. His whisky was the best; it tasted just like Jack
Daniels Tennessee sour mash which I think is the best in the world
surpassing Canadian Club. As a matter of fact, I happen to have a
bottle of Jack Daniels by my desk and have a little sip now and then
to remind me of the good old days!!
Norm Rasmussen: 12-06-2008:
(My email to Rial Green): Were you around when they put up
the three smoke stacks at the Bates mill? That had to be quite an
undertaking of putting up that tallest one. Do you remember
anything about the project?
(Rials's reply): I
watched some when they put up a stack. It was put up from the
inside - a 1/2 section at a time. Therefore you couldn't see the
workers since they were inside the stack.
Billie Joe George: 12-05-2008:
(My email to Rial Green): Good Afternoon Rial. How are you
today? Norm and I were emailing and he asked me about Hobbes Ranch. I
don't really know that much about it other than Uncle Vern Raines owned
it once and had dairy cows there. What can you tell us about it?
Rial Green: (Rials's
reply): Tom Hobbes had the ranch long before Bates was built. Even
after Bates was there he would still walk to Austin to get his mail.
Anyway, some con men had gotten Tom to invest in an oil well in Texas,
which was a scam, but he believed in them. He thought he would be very
rich. Sometimes they would send him a check and I remember he would get
my Dad to haul him to Prairie City to cash it and stock up on
groceries. Many times the check hadn't been signed and he thought they
had forgotten to sign it, so he would send it back and tell them to
re-invest it. Sometimes my Dad would pay for his groceries. Those
people got every cent he had and he borrowed money from your uncle
Vernon against the ranch. He owed Vernon $12,000 and Vernon carried him
a long time when he couldn't pay it back. Finally Vernon and his wife
were forced to take over the ranch. We used to visit them there. They
told old Tom that he could live upstairs for as long as he lived and
could eat his meals with them. This worked for some time but then old
Tom 'kinda went off his rocker. He would get pine limbs that were
pitchy and make them into torches and put them up around upstairs for
light. Vernon and Mrs. Raines were afraid he would catch the house on
fire and burn them all up, so they finally had to get in touch with the
At that time we were living on the summit of Dixie. A rancher from
Prairie City named George Velvin would butcher a beef every week and
when he got to the summit, he would hire me to drive his new Ford pickup
to all the camps and Bates and Austin. He always had a jug of wine he
drank all day, which is why he needed a driver. One day we were in
Austin selling meat and Sheriff Hazeltine asked George Velvin to go to
the Hobbes ranch and get old Tom to come out and show him some of the
property markers. Old Tom had a .22 rifle upstairs and wouldn't let
anyone come up there. So George and I went to the ranch and George got
Tom to come out and the sheriff and a deputy went in and got the gun.
Then they took old Tom to what they called the "poor house" three miles
from Baker, where they had other old people who were homeless or
half-crazy. Old Tom died there about two months after he was put in
there. The old people in there didn't seem to last long in there. Your
uncle Vernon was really sorry about that but he had no choice. They
would have been burned up otherwise.
We all liked old Tom. He was a good old man, but he still believed in
those crooks who fleeced him out of everything. It was sad for all who
knew him. Have a nice holiday - Rial
Norm Note: Gregg filled
in a few facts from Rials above post. Gregg quotes Rial, then types in
purple his inserted facts/commentary. Thanks, Gregg!
Gregg: Tom Hobbes had the ranch long before Bates was
Even after Bates was there he would
still walk to Austin to get his mail. ....up
until 1919 when Bates got it's own post office.
Those people got every cent he had and
he borrowed money from your uncle Vernon against the ranch. I
remember in the early 1950s people talked about Mr. Hobbes and how
he would come to the post office every day waiting for his big check
- which never came.
Vernon and Mrs. Raines were afraid he
would catch the house on fire and burn them all up. So they finally
had to get in touch with the Sheriff.
Was Vernon a Raines or a Reynolds? I thought the last people who
owned the Hobbs ranch before the Riccos bought it was a Reynolds
family. (But I could easily be wrong.)
At that time we were living on the
summit of Dixie. A rancher from Prairie City named George Velvin
would butcher a beef every week and when he got to the summit he
would hire me to drive his new Ford pickup to all the camps and
Bates and Austin. He always had a jug of wine he drank all day which
is why he needed a driver.
George Velvin was
English. His son, Tom, took over the ranch and ran it into the
ground. People used to laugh at his hay stacks. Tom didn't take
care of his dad and I think there was a sad ending - but I can't
remember the details now. Eventually Tom had to sell out. He moved
to the coast, where he bought a bowling alley. I doubt that worked
We all liked old Tom, he was a good old man but he still believed in
those crooks who fleeced him out of everything. It was sad for all
who knew him.
The old 'poor farm' is
still standing. It is in a gully on the left side going into Baker
from the south. I'm sorry to hear the end of Mr. Hobbes' story but
in my research on death certificates in Baker and Grant county
there is information on lots of old single men who died in their
cabins of starvation, illness or suicide. It was a tough time. We
need to be grateful for the lives we have now.
Gregg Smith: 12-03-2008:
Dr. Mick posted a picture of Art Cardwell and son Len when Len was
very young. Turkeys everywhere - everywhere!
Some people may not know that turkeys were a major industry in
Eastern Oregon in the 1930s (and perhaps 1920s). The Ricco brothers got
their ranching start raising turkeys on the home place up Dixie Creek.
My Dad spent part of a summer on a turkey ranch in Drewsey, until he
developed tick fever. I think Mr. Wishard in Prairie City got his start
And.....for what it's worth,
there are now quite a few wild turkeys in Eastern Oregon. I saw
a large flock this past summer in the meadow on McNamee Gulch on the
1035 road from Tipton to Greenhorn.
Billie Joe George: 12-02-2008: When I was little, Dad used to
raise pigs up behind Newtville where Immose's log cabin was. We lived
in Grandma Raines house then. They all used to tell the story about one
old pig that had 33 babies. Mom would laugh about how they kept the
ones the mom couldn't take in boxes around the stove to keep them warm.
And they would rotate them at feeding time,so that all would get some
natural milk. She said they did a good job of taking care of them; they
only lost 6 out of the 33.
I was thinking today ... as you guys are
always talk fall and hunting. I always had another reason for looking
forward to fall. That was when Dad would make his Homebrew and Root
Beer for the winter. We would gather the brown stubby bottles all
spring and summer, then when fall came Mom and us girls would get them
all washed up and sterilized. Dad would start mixing up the family's
winter refreshment. It would set in the cellar for about three weeks, I
think, in the crocks covered with cheese cloth. Then the fun day would
come -- bottling day. Out would come the little hose and the boxes of
bottle caps and the funny little thing that pressed the caps on. Then on
its side it would lay on shelves in the cellar until it was ready to
drink. Every once in awhile you would hear small explosions in the
cellar when one blew up. Winnie (Sterling) Smith always said it was the
best home brew around. Not too long before she passed away she sent me
the receipt that Dad had given her. We still have all of that stuff.
Norm response: Billie Joe ...
well then, there you go! You make Homebrew and Root Beer and I'll tend
the 'shine still underground where they used to raise turkeys and we can
go into a business partnership right there at the Austin House! Shucks,
Gregg and Len can put together a revamped stage line from Baker City to
the Austin House for nostalgia sakes, (Wireless Internet and the whole
nine yards on those buggies!) and then let 'em run on over to Prairie
City - Bend - Salem - Portland - Anchorage, Alaska - round the world and
back to Baker City from the backside. Dr. Mick can be the Public
Relations director and market the whole thing! Shuck sakes alive ...
lets get some tourists ($$$$$) coming over there to Austinville. Good
Homebrew will bring rich Saudi Oil princes to the Austin House. They
can drill for "oil" out back where the turkey's used to gobble and I'll
let them find some Norm's Pig's-Ear-Silk-Smooth-Austinville Shine as
they drill. Let's put the Austin House on the global map for the WHOLE
WORLD to come and taste that BJ - Forrest's
World Famous Homebrew!
And of course, there would be the BJ
- Forrest's World Famous Root Beer for the fainthearted and
the youth. The sky's the limit on this!
Arden May: 12-02-2008:
Hi. I remember living in Bates and going to school there a
short while. The teacher was Miss Gause. I was looking on Dr.
Mick's site at the Bates Majorettes and recognized one: her name
was Donna Howell. My folks lived in one of the houses that was
built around a tree in Knuteville. Some of you may know my dad,
Jess May. My mom and dad are still alive, and in fairly good
health. I think his brother, Walt May, came there after we
moved away. His wife was named jewel. The kids were Walter,
Jim, Rick and Susan. Jewel passed away a couple years or so
More about the tree in our house. I
spoke with my dad recently, to refresh some of my memory. Dad said
the tree was in the living room part of the wall. Mom said it was
on the outside and the walls were built around the tree. I think
Mom is right because that is how I remembered it. The tree did go
up through the roof. We lived in the second or third house on the
bottom row of houses there in Knuteville. Mom said I walked across
the field to go to school. Dad said we could walk to church. Mom
remembers the pastor was a women minister, but didn't remember her
name. I believe it was an Assemblies of God church.
Dad was the head machinist there and
worked with Lew Smith. Another person he mention was Jack Fraiser.
Dad said the Machine shop was painted red and was next to the mill.
Dad said he didn't know if they had taken many or if any pictures,
but I know they did because I remember seeing some; they will look
and see. I am the same age as you, Norm. Age 62; birth date
9/22/46. We probably had Agnes L. Gause at the same time as our 3rd
We moved from Long Creek to Bates in
1954 and then moved to Klamath, CA in 1955. Leland Simonson offered
dad a job to come to California to help him build a mill in
Klamath. Leland did work for Hines lumber Co. He also had a large
mill in Smith River, CA. I went through some of my pictures and
found a class picture from Long Creek and also my third grade report
card from Bates. Wow - I didn't remember I had it. Was there a
place called Jump mber it.
I remember in the winter
time sledding down a hill. All the kids were there; It was a lot of
fun, and the fires to help keep us warm. I believe in the field,
water had frozen and people were skating and there were bonfires to
keep warm, and also the snow ball fights. I remember getting
clobbered. I remember Dad bringing home two nice bucks. He really
liked to hunt and so do I. I also remember fishing off the bridge
and creek -- catching trout. Now I go out under the Golden Gate SF
and catch large salmon, rock cod, and ling cod. I have one son and
three daughters, three grandchildren, two dogs, one cat, and three
foreign exchange students.
Arden May [email@example.com]
George's response to Arden's post: Yes -
there is a Lake called Jump Off Joe. It's down by
Desolation Meadows on the back side of Vinegar - kind of
in the Indian Rock area. We used to go there a lot.
Dad would trap live mice and float them out on a thin
board and you still couldn't get those huge trout to
bite. It is so clear and very deep. Around the edge
the water is really pretty, but not to far out it just
turns black when it starts getting deep. It is about a
1/2 mile walk off the road to Desolation Meadows, from
the Crocket Knob - Indian Rock Rd.
Billie Joe George (Raines): 12-01-2008: We just returned from
our week-end at Austin. You will not believe this. First of Dec. and no
snow anywhere. None on Dixie; very little on Vinegar; Tipton was bare
to. Terry and I were mad at ourselves. We could have spent Thanksgiving
at the cabin for the first time since I can remember. Yesterday I made
us turkey sandwiches and we had a picnic out back while we burned the
summer's lawn clippings. No coats necessary. It was an Indian Summer
day. We are all ready for when the cold hits however, as we know it
will probably be real soon.
Norm Note: I asked Billie Joe earlier
today in an email if she ever had a chance to do much snowmobiling in
the Bates/Austin area growing up. I thought her answer should be posted
here. She experienced something I never experienced living there.
"I wanna go home; I wanna go home; ohhhhh how I wannnna ... goooo
We used to but not so much any
more. After Mom (Teresa Raines; wife of Forrest) got
sick it was mostly taking care of the things she couldn't
do. So we just never got to do it any more. There is nothing
like a midnight snowmobile ride on Christmas night. My
husband Terry, Phronsie (Older sister and twin to
Francis) and I did that a couple times. Talk about
making you appreciate the day. Clear sky and the stars
shining overhead, and just enough moon to give some
light. Take off at Austin - go up the rail road tracks to
the far end of the meadow - cut up over the hill, and come
out on the new road that goes above the old Vinegar Creek
Swimming hole, and down onto the Middle Fork. It was a
beautiful ride. Made you remember what the day was all
about. I remember setting on the hill just before you drop
onto the Middle Fork Road, with Dixie Mountain in the back
ground ... and thanking God for letting me be so lucky to be
where we were on that night. It took my breath away. It
was so beautiful.
Norm Rasmussen: 11-25-2008: I'm buying a tent and moving to
Bates and setting up a moonshine still in them thar mountains
somewhere! I'm convinced that The Mother of All Bubbles is U.S.
Gregg Smith: 11-24-2008: Here is the story about the location of
the White Pine mill after talking with Elwood Greear in John Day. He is
in hisearly 90s. He grew up in Austin and Bates and was the last mill
boss in Bates. Elwood said the White Pine mill was about 1/2 mile north
of Sixteen Gulch at a little meadow on Crawford Creek. They called the
meadow "Jap Meadow" because there were a number of Japanese working
there. A team of Australians cut the grades for the logging train. They
used pick and shovel and a horse drawn 'Fresno' scraper. They also
built the bridges. Then a Japanese crew came along and laid the ties
The oldest people from the Bates / Austin
area are in their 90s. Carol Johns, Elwood Greear and Rial Green. If
you have any more question, ask them soon.
Len Cardwell: 11-24: Thought I would add a little to Gregg's
post above. If you take the Crawford Creek road from either the top of
Tipton (Hwy 7) or at Crawford Meadows (Hwy 26), you will come to a
intersection about half way through. Beside the road is some concrete
blocks that the White Pine Boiler sat on. Just over across the creek is
the road up to Jap Meadows. The old railroad grade is still there along
Crawford road. It ties in to the main line at the upper end of
Taylor Siding were we had the Bates Reunion. That was also PRIME Art
Cardwell and Leonard Watterson Hunting Country. I killed my first buck
right there. (Norm note: Care to offer some specific details
about that first buck, Len? Like - how old were you? Did you get buck
fever? How many times did you shoot at him before he ran into a bullet?
After the point of the bullet's impact, how long did it take for his
tongue to flop out his mouth and droop over to the side? Details, my
man, details! We need more interesting DETAILS to these posts,
otherwise people are going to go back and start reading old Ann Landers
Rial's Answer to Gregg About The Camp's Questions Below: 11-20-08:
When I lived there, my dad worked in Camp 1 and Sherm Coulter was camp boss
and Camp 2 was bossed by Richard Hyatt. The camps moved quite often. When
that section had been logged they moved camp. We lived in a camp up Vinegar
creek, which ran into the John Day River about 3 miles down the river from
Bates. The other camp was somewhere west of us quite a few miles. At
another time we lived on the summit of Dixie mountain -- however the camp
was a mile down the hill towards Prairie City. We lived right by the
highway and I caught the school bus there that year. Another rime our camp
was down the river close to Susanville. One year we lived in Whitney where
the Oregon Lumber Co. built another mill. When they started to haul some
logs by truck, there was another camp on Dixie before you reached the
summit. We turned left from the highway and it was about 2 miles up the
road. The first trucks were only 1 1/2 ton trucks, and while riding down
the hill the floor shuddered so much you thought the transmission was coming
up through the floor. Later they used bigger trucks after they quit the
When I got back from the Air Force in 1945 my
dad and his crew were pulling up the last of the steel from the Sumpter
Valley tracks near Baker City. Later a group from Baker started a
restoration project. Union Pacific gave them some old steel which they laid
on the old road bed from McEwen to Sumpter and they got some old locomotives
and restored them. At least two of the Sumpter Valley engines were brought
back from The White Pass and Yukon railroad which runs from Skagway Alaska
to Whithorse Yukon territory. They had bought the engines from the SVRR and
when they changed to Diesel engines the old SVRR engines were retired. They
also have a Heisler engine which they restored and run it from McEwen with a
couple of passenger cars to Sumpter for tourists in the summer. That engine
is one my dad ran for the Baker White Pine Lbr. Co. in 1914. I have a book
called Rails, Sagebrush and Pine written by Mallory Hope Ferrell which is
about the Sumpter Valley RR and the Oregon Lbr. Co. which at one time was
the longest narrow gauge railroad in the USA when the tracks still ran over
to Prairie City. About half of the pictures in the book were furnished by
my dad but after the book was published I had a hard time getting the
pictures back and many were never returned. I have them in storage
someplace; perhaps in my storage unit here in Spokane. I do have one box of
pictures there and a couple of boxes here in the house. The book has
pictures of all the Sumpter Valley locomotives and all of it's rolling
stock. The book is out of print now. Years ago I did find one which I gave
to my youngest son who lives in Anchorage, AK.
Next Email from Rial to Gregg:
Elwood is right. It was not the ditch to feed the mill pond. As you look
at the photo at the far end of the houses to the right, the ditch ran on the
flat behind the houses and curved along the brush line you see. If this
picture was taken in 1923 when I lived there, I was too young to notice it.
In about 1930 I played on that hillside some and I don't remember that
line. It might have been removed by then. Elwood lived in a house at the
far right end of the houses and knows where the ditch ran behind his house.
His uncle Mr. Johnston pulled me out of that ditch once in the winter. I had
been sleigh riding with some others on the right side of the hill and they
took a shortcut down the hill behind the Jonston's house and across a bridge
over the creek. I was behind and to catch up I rode my sled down the hill
and missed the bridge and dove into the ditch. There was about 3 or 4 feet
of snow and I was standing in waist deep water and I couldn't get out. It
was very cold and I started calling for help. Fortunately Mr. Jonston was
in the outhouse beside the ditch and heard me. I held up my sled and he
reached down and pulled me out. I don't think I would have lasted much
longer if he hadn't been there to help me. I often wonder why I have lived
so long. I've had a lot of close calls but none more close than that time.
As with everyone else, that line is a
mystery to me The road into Bates ran between the houses until about the
fifth house on the far right and then turned toward the flat and the store,
etc. We need someone older than me to solve the puzzle!
(The photo being discussed is the one
taken of Bates in 1920. It is on Dr. Mick's site.)
Note: 11-20-08: I'm beginning to question my wisdom of putting most
recent emails here at the top, rather than putting them at the
bottom. It may be difficult for some people to grasp the flow correctly
of these emails I'm positing. Having said such ...
Gregg Smith has been dialoguing with Rial
Green about Bates/Austin things, and Gregg has been forwarding me a copy of
their dialogue, which is really some very precious history that I want to
record here, otherwise it will probably be lost:
Rial Green: 03-19-08: I am now 88 years old and live in
Spokane Valley, Washington. I was born in Baker, but when I was
three years old my father, Claude Green, moved us to Bates. He ran
a locomotive for over 45 years for the Oregon Lumber Co. He ran the
engine when they pulled the last rails up in 1947.
My sister was three years older than
me so she started school before Mr. Cardwell came there. At that
time the Bates kids walked up the track and went to school at the
Austin school (about a 1/4 mile from Austin). The year before she
started, the principal was a small man named Thompson. When he
tried to discipline the younger boys, they would run into the other
room and get their big brother to beat up the principal. Some of
these older boys were practically full grown men - perhaps 17 years
old still in school. At any rate Mr. Thompson only lasted six months
They then got this large woman
principal and she whacked these older boys with a triangular ruler
and they finally quit school and went to work logging. Art Cardwell
came the next year and very quickly had the remainder of the older
boys under control. The year before I started first grade, some
older boys put a thumb tack on Mr. Cardwell's chair while he was out
getting wood for the furnace. The boys fled out a window and Mr.
Cardwell said, "All of you kids stay in your seats!" and he ran out
the door, and in 30 minutes all four boys came back with a hound-dog
look and were good boys after that.
When I was
in the 7th grade Mr. Cardwell gave us an oral test on
agriculture. I didn't have the faintest clue about
farming: all I knew about was logging. This day I had
not studied my lesson and when he asked me what the
farmer stored in his silo, I couldn't come up with the
answer. He said "I know your dad cuts up cabbage and
puts it down in a big crock, which works the same as a
silo. Now what do you call what the farmer puts in his
"Oh ..." I said.
said, "No - it is called silage, and for your
smart-aleck answer you can stand in the corner for an
hour." I decided I would study my lessons after that,
although I appreciated the laughs I got.
I was the best speller in class and
on one written test of about 20 words I allowed Bob
Edwards (who was the poorest student in class) to peek
at my paper. He copied all the words but thought he
would change one word so Mr. Cardwell wouldn't know he
had copied. To my dismay, he had changed the only word
I had gotten wrong and had it right! Mr. Cardwell could
never figure out how Bob could get 100% on a test and me
only 90%. I never let Bob copy from me after that.
Bob had started school when my
sister did, three years before me, but since she had
taught me what she learned as a first and second grader,
I was able to read some and knew some arithmetic. I was
skipped to the second grade and didn't have to do the
first grade. What with failed classes for Bob and his
brother Jake, I caught up with them. When I graduated in
Prairie City high, Jake and I graduated together and Bob
was still a freshman. Bob only liked to go to school
during football season and then drop out until the next
I found Mr. Cardwell was one of the best teachers
I ever had. He was well respected by everyone; even the ones he had
spanked earlier. All of us boys learned to smoke very early (I
started when I was 10) but if Mr. Cardwell saw us smoking, even out
of school in the middle of the summer, he would pull out his leather
strap and give us a few whacks. And if we complained to our parents
we got another one at home. I really believe he changed the lives of
many who got very little quality parenting at home.
I graduated from the Austin - Bates school in
I rode the bus to Prairie City to high school and
graduated from there in 1936. We had only 12 graduating students
that year. In those days no student could drive a car to school;
you rode the bus or walked. I am amazed at the parking lots in
schools now. Every kid has a car and beware of the traffic when
school lets out!
I went to work in the mill in Bates that year
at age 16 and in 1940 enlisted in the Air Force along with Franz
Knanenburg and two other friends. Franz was the youngest son of Mrs
Kranenburg and after the war he became postmaster in Prairie City.
I worked for Ellingston in their mills after the
war and got married in 1952 and moved to Montana until 2005, and
then moved to Spokane Valley where I live with my daughter. My wife
passed away a month after we moved over here.
While we still lived in Montana several years
ago, my wife and I took two of our granddaughters on a trip to the
coast of Oregon. On the way I drove into the Bates townsite to show
them where I grew up and Bates was missing! I really felt bad, but
still have many good memories of life and school there. I wish I
had known about the Bates Reunion get-togethers every few years. I
would have loved to have seen Mr. Cardwell again, and any others I
02-02-2008: (Phone conversation): "Chet is outside blowing snow with the
blower. We've got about five feet of snow here in Bates and it's snowing
01-30-2008: Staff writer Jayson Jacoby from the
City Herald Newspaper granted permission to reprint his entire article
about the new proposed Bates Park that recently got picked up by the Associated
Press (Thanks, Jayson!):
By: Jayson Jacoby, Baker City Herald
The remnants of the sawmill that gave birth to Bates, a
Grant County ghost town that was quite lively as recently as the mid 1970s, will
become Oregon's newest state park. The state Parks and Recreation Commission
has authorized state officials to spend as much as $500,000 in lottery revenue
to buy the 131-acre property that includes the site of the Oregon Lumber Company
sawmill that was Bates' centerpiece, and the reason the company-owned town was
founded in 1917.
Bates, which had a population of about 300, basically
folded in October 1975 when the Edward Hines Lumber Company, which then owned
the mill, closed the operation, moved the equipment to John Day and sold the
other buildings, including several dozen houses. Many of those houses were
moved to either Prairie City or John Day, where they're still used as
The 131-acre property is just west and south of the
intersection of Oregon Highway 7 and Grant County Road 20, which follows the
Middle Fork of the John Day River. That intersection is about a mile north of
Austin Junction, where Highway 7 and Highway 26 meet. Bates is several miles
from the Baker County-Grant County line, about 48 miles, by Highway 7, from
"The 131-acre parcel is near, but does not include, the
Bates townsite," said Dennis Reynolds, a John Day resident and board member of
the Bates Park and Museum Foundation, the private nonprofit group that bought
the property in December 2006. Reynolds said the Foundation originally intended
to transfer the property to Grant County. But he said county officials were
concerned that the county could not afford to build a park at the site, so they
suggested the Foundation talk instead with state parks officials. Foundation
board members agreed, Reynolds said. Their main goal is to preserve the
property, and along with it the story of Bates, Reynolds said.
Right now there isn¹t even a sign to indicate that the
thriving little town existed as recently as the Gerald Ford administration.
"It would be nice to give the area some recognition," said
Chris Havel, a spokesman for the State Parks and Recreation Department.
Havel expects the agency will take ownership of the Bates
property by late spring or early summer. State officials probably will need at
least a couple of years, however, to decide what type of state park to build.
Parks range from day-use sites such as the nearby Sumpter
Valley Dredge, to parks with campgrounds equipped with water, sewer and
electrical hookups for RVs, such Farewell Bend near Huntington. Havel said
state officials hope to open the Bates park in 2011.
Grant County Judge Mark Webb is excited about the
prospects for the Bates property. "Having it become a state park would reward
the vision and diligent efforts of former Bates residents who wanted this area
recognized and protected for its many attributes, and developed to its full
potential," Webb said, according to a press release from the Parks Department.
Norm Rasmussen is one of those former residents.
Rasmussen, 61, lives near Grand Rapids, Michigan, "But I always tell people that
at heart I'm a hillbilly from Eastern Oregon," Rasmussen said Tuesday in a
telephone interview from his home. "Bates is home and I love it and want to see
Rasmussen thinks a state park at Bates could attract
thousands of visitors whom he predicts will be fascinated by this mostly
forgotten place's legacy as a classic Oregon company sawmill town. "Those places
are becoming a thing of the past," Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen moved with his family from Long Creek, also in
Grant County, to Bates in 1951, when he was five. He attended school in Bates
through eighth grade. Because Bates never had a high school, students had to
ride the bus about 17 miles, over the sometimes treacherous Dixie Butte pass, to
Prairie City. Rasmussen graduated from Prairie City High School in 1965. He
moved away and never again lived in Bates.
But Rasmussen still cherishes his years growing up in
Bates. "The best years of my childhood," he said. "Tons of memories." And most
of them are good memories.
Except certain ones involving Dooley Mountain and throwing
up, which is a combination anyone who has ever traveled that serpentine route
Because Bates was relatively isolated, Prairie City is the
nearest other town of consequence, and getting there was no minor matter when
snow was three feet deep and the temperature 35 below. "Bates kids weren't
accustomed to traveling," Rasmussen said.
"For a kid up to say 15 or 16 years old, going to John
Day, which is where all the parents went to get groceries or see a movie. . . .
wow, it was kind of like you or I going to Hollywood," he said. "In our mind
that was a long ways away." John Day is 13 miles past Prairie City.
"But the journey to John Day," Rasmussen said, "Was
commonplace compared with the nearly epic expedition to Baker." He said his
family made that excursion maybe twice a year, including one in late summer to
buy school clothes because prices were cheaper in Baker.
Today, the easiest route from Bates to Baker is Highway
7. It's a bit curvy in places but it's not like, say, one of those amusement
park rides where a low-ranking worker is always stationed with a shovel and a
bucket of sawdust. Back in the 1950s, though, what¹s now Highway 7 was a rough
The only paved route to Baker was east on Highway 26 to
the Unity Junction, then past Unity Reservoir and along the Burnt River to
Dooley Mountain. The highway that climbs Dooley (it was, curiously, Highway 7
then, and is Highway 245 now) has more squiggles than a toddler¹s first
drawing. Rasmussen's stomach did not appreciate this.
"I threw up every time," he said, chuckling at memories
which, half a century on, have made that magical transformation from unpleasant
(and messy) to humorously nostalgic. "My parents hated to take me," Rasmussen
said. Sour stomach aside, he said the family's arrival in Baker never seemed
less than a wondrous event to him. "To us Bates kids, John Day was big but
Baker was huge; just a huge city," he said. "It was just the largest city
Leonard Cardwell shares both Rasmussen's love for Bates,
and hopes that the creation of a state park will help preserve the town's
"There's a real need there," said Cardwell, who was born
in 1937 and lived in Bates until he graduated from Prairie City High School in
1955 and joined the Navy. Cardwell, who has lived in Pendleton since 1989,
owned a cabin at Bates for many years which he used as a base camp for hunting
and fishing trips. He attends the reunions that former Bates residents put on
at the site every two years. About 300 people came to the most recent reunion
"There's still a sense of home there whether there's
houses or not," Cardwell said. "The people had real close family ties, and most
everybody who lived in Bates has stayed in touch over the years. It's home.
SIDEBAR: Bates got its start when the Oregon
Lumber Company built a sawmill near the Middle Fork in 1917. The Sumpter Valley
Railroad, the famous Stump Dodger, passed nearby on its way to its terminus in
Prairie City. According to Oregon Geographic Names, Bates post office
was established on March 24, 1919, and was named for Paul C. Bates, a Portland
insurance agent involved in the Oregon Lumber Company's negotiations to buy
timberland near its sawmill.
(Rasmussen): 01-29-2008: It was good to be able to read the many
memories recorded in Sonja's book, and the memories and thoughts others have
shared below. Reading them has brought back many memories of my own, and I'll
share some of them.
Ruby Mc Callister, daughter of Riley and Elizabeth Mc
Callister, was one of my best friends in Bates. We were in the same grade. I
don't recall now exactly what year it happened, but in was somewhere between
1953-1955. We were between the ages of 11-13. Ruby was an excellent swimmer.
One day she and I were swimming in one of the "dredge" holes in the river
down from the saw mill. She was teaching me how to swim. I could dog paddle,
and that was all. I ventured out into deeper water. I couldn't touch bottom
and started to panic. I bobbed up and down in the water, thrashed my hands and
feet and coughed and choked. I lost control and feared I was drowning. Ruby
swam to me, pulled me to shore and slapped my back to expel more water. I don't
remember if we were with anyone else, or how we got home. I only know Ruby
saved my life that day and I will always be grateful to her. Ruby lived in The
Dalles, Oregon, where she deceased in 2004.
Marlene Blume was another best friend, also in the same grade. Sometimes we
would go to the Bates Hotel, where her mother, Hazel Blume, cooked for the men
who boarded there. Hazel fed us many home-cooked meals and I thought she was
the best cook in all the world. We were only allowed to go into the kitchen,
and could never speak or mingle with any of the boarders.
I spent many hours in the home of Lyle and Hazel Blume.
Marlene and I had several "sleep-overs" and I remember waking up to the smell of
bacon, eggs, and pancakes - Hazel made for us for breakfast. Lyla Blume was
Marlene's younger sister. She could play "honky tonk" piano like me. We used
to takes turns at the piano in their home trying to out-do one another on the
keyboard. Hazel and Lyle would join us in singing. Their favorite song then
was "Mocking Bird Hill." I loved to play that song and they loved to sing it.
My interest in learning to play the piano started in
the 4th grade when Raymond Rasmussen moved his family from Long Creek to Bates.
I attended the Assembly of God Church and was allowed to stay after meetings and
plunk on the piano. Mrs. Davis was the lady minister then. She could sing and
play the guitar. She made music come alive for me and sang solos in church
meetings. She encouraged me to play on the piano and to sing. She had two
step-sons, Vern and Ralph, who were also my friends. I taught myself to play
the piano by ear. I started with a simple tune of "Mary Had A Little Lamb." As
I hummed and plunked out the keys that matched my hums, slowly I put together
melodies and chords. As time went on, I learned how to use full-octive chords,
syncopation, rolling and sliding chords. I developed a "honky tonk" sound that
I became very good at over the years. Eventually I was able to play some of the
gospel tunes in the meetings in that church. Mrs. Davis gave me my first
Bible. I earned it in summer vacation Bible school. It was white leather with
a zipper. I prized it, read it, and marked it.
My piano playing continued in the Bates grade school. I
often stayed inside at recess, and after school, to play the piano. When I was
in the 5th grade, my parents bought a piano. It was a surprise, and the day I
came home from school and saw it in our living room, I screamed and cried. I
have that piano in my home today and it has the best touch for Honky Tonk
playing. My parents, Ray and Edna Rasmussen, had previously traveled to
Portland and mother picked it out for me. They made payments of $10 a month
until it was paid for. I still have the receipts.
The Hines Lumber Company made available wall paper and paint for employees to
fix up their houses. Dad brought home wall paper samples in a big book and we
choose our designs and colors for each room in the house. Because I had a keen
interest in art and working with color, Mom let me make most of the choices for
the house. We worked together as a family decorating each room. I remember Mom
making wall-paper paste out of flour. Dad brushed the paper with the paste, and
hung it on the wall. Our house came alive with color.
Mrs. Kranenburg (not sure if this is the proper spelling of
her name) hired me to trim the grass in her yard. I did not mow the lawn. My
job was to trim where the lawn mower couldn't mow. I used her clippers to trim
under fences, around flower beds, and next to the house. I weeded flower beds.
She gave me cold drinks of lemonade or Kool-Aid with homemade cookies for
refreshment. She instilled within me a sense of pride to do the very best job I
could and was generous in paying me, thus developing my work ethic. Working in
the summers for Mrs. Kranenburg was the first job I ever had. I remember how
grown-up and important I felt to be earning my own money. I saved my money to
buy clothes for school. Mrs. Kranenburg was always friendly and kind to me.
Going to her house was like going to a "Grandmother's" house, a blessing I never
had with my own grandparents, who were deceased, or lived too far away. I will
always remember the little white-haired lady who lived at the end of the middle
row of houses closest to the airport hill.
After I graduated from the 8th grade in 1956, I attended high
school in Prairie City for the next two years. Mrs. Kranenburg had moved to
Prairie City at some point around that time. One day I went to visit her on my
lunch time, and she made me a huge breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast, and milk. I
don't remember ever seeing her again. I really liked Mrs. Kranenburg.
I was employed by the Allenbaugh family, who lived in
Newtville, to babysit their children for three days while they were on a trip.
I stayed at their house, did the cooking, and got us all off to school. The
year was about 1955-56. I don't remember the names of the children, but the
oldest daughter helped me make dinner one night and asked if she could make the
dessert. She opened home-canned peaches and bing cherries, mixed them together,
and called them "Pa-cherries." We all laughed at her creativity in the name she
called her dessert. The combination tasted good....especially with cream.
My classmate, Marilyn Jones, swallowed an opened safety pin one day while
sitting in class. It was the 5th and 6th grade room because I remember Mr.
Cardwell, the Principal, coming in being very concerned about her. (About
1953-1954). It was decided that she would go home so her parents could take her
to the doctor. When she returned she told us that the doctor told her to eat a
lot of bread to bind around the pin and that it would pass from her body. I
imagined all sorts of horror that pin might cause for my friend.
The first time I remember driving a car while living
at Bates, was a time Larry Immoos drove his car to Unity with a car full of kids
to get a Coke at the Unity Store. My older sister, Yvonne, had taught me a
little about driving, so on the way home Larry asked me to drive the car to the
"Y" Junction, so he could sit in the back seat with his girl friend, Lana Owens,
who was my classmate. Larry gave me pointers from the back seat on driving
until he felt confident I could handle driving the car. We arrived safely, and
I will always remember how I held the lives of those people in my hands, while
Larry held his girlfriend in his arms. Larry and Lana got married a few years
My father, Raymond Rasmussen, was a champion cribbage
player. He often went to the Bates Hotel in the evenings to play his favorite
card game. One December, the "Y" Junction Inn had prizes of boxes of chocolates
they were giving away to the winner of card games. My dad came home with boxes
of chocolates every time he went to play a game. There were several boxes of
chocolates in our utility room where they were stored. I opened the boxes and
looked for my favorite chocolates. Seemed someone else beat me to my favorites,
because all the carmel nut ones had all been eaten and all I could find was a
coffee-mocha soft filling I did not like. I went through a lot of candy trying
to find one that tasted good. One day my Dad went to get some candy, and found
so many missing, and shouted out to his children, "Who's been eating my
chocolates?" I did not answer, thinking it would pass and one of my siblings
would get blamed. After a period of days, my conscience burned, because I knew I
was the guilty party. I confessed that I was the chocolate sampler. I never
knew who ate the "good" ones, and since Dad kept bringing home more and more
boxes of candy, he did not punish me for telling the truth.
My mother, Edna Rasmussen, loved to pick
huckleberries. One day in August about 1954 - 1955, she and I drove our green
Buick "down the river" to one of her favorite berry patches. We walked a long
way through a small valley and up the side of a mountain to find a good patch.
While filling our buckets, we heard a loud snort in the bushes. I was scared
stiff, and shouted to my mother, "Bear, bear!" We both took off running down
the mountain not looking back. When we reached the bottom, there was nothing
following us so we stopped to rest. Mom said it must have been a buck deer
snorting in the woods, and not a bear. We walked out that day with only a few
berries. We found an old gold mining dredge hole, and went swimming - in our
clothes. Mom was a very good swimmer and I marveled at how smooth she was in
the water. It was the only time I ever saw her swim ... it was the only day I
ever had a one-on-one day with my mother. Mom died June 1996 in her home in
Bend, Oregon; 86 years old.
One afternoon one of my friends and I went for a hike up
Airport Hill. I can't remember who was with me. It was either Darlene
Caldwell, Ruby Mc Callister, or Marlene Blume, as those where the friends I
played with the most, who were all in my classmates. I got the big idea to push
a big rock down the hill to see how fast it would gather momentum, thinking it
would end up in the big mill pond at the base of the mountain. We both pushed,
and away it rolled......faster and faster down the hill. Suddenly we saw an
empty logging truck headed down the river to bring back another load of logs. I
clenched my teeth, squeezed my hands together, and watched the horror of the
rock hitting the road at the same time the truck aligned with it. The truck
high-centered on the rock, and stopped. My friend and I high-tailed it over the
mountain, scared to death to go home and face our parents. I knew my Dad would
be very upset with me if he found out. Somehow we worked our way around the
mountain and went home. I said nothing to my parents about the incident.
Strangely, Dad never mentioned it as part of the "scuttle-but" mill talk that
passes through a small sawmill town. I carried the guilt for a long time,
wondering what kind of damage I did to that logging truck. I never found out.
(Uncalledfor Editorial Comment: Suppose this was how the
term came to be: Rock-In-Roll? Furthermore ... wouldn't it be
"interesting" to know just how many kids rolled rocks down that SAME hill? I
can raise MY hand!)
01-20-2008: Len Cardwell emailed me the proposed site plans in
attachment form of the future Bates Mill Park, but I'm not able to post them on
this site for some unknown reason. There are some nice aerial photos of the
Bates area in these attachments, so you can email Len and ask him to forward
them to you, or I'll be glad to email them to you. My email is:
Flash! Bates Mill Park APPROVED!
(Thanks for updating us, Mick!)
"State Parks panel says
"YES!" to Bates site. The
Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission voted Thursday, Jan. 17, to proceed with
buying the Bates mill town property in Grant County for development as a state
From Mick Watterson:
01-14-2008: (Mick dug up this old news article somewhere on the Internet
and thought maybe someone might be interested in reading it. It was published
BATES RECOVERS AS LUMBER
Company Has About 250 men in Several Woods, Mill Crews.
A crew of about 250 men is
now employed in the lumbering operations at Bates, including three logging
crews, and that town is enjoying the greatest prosperity for several years.
The Bates mill of the
Oregon Lumber company is now operating two cutting crews days and one crew at
night, and is turning out lumber for the trade at the rate of about 165,000 feet
There are three logging
camps; a railroad camp on the west side of Dixie mountain in charge of S.W.
Coulter; a truck camp on the east side of Dixie in charge of R. M. Hiatt; and a
contractor camp operated by Frank Gardiner on White Pine siding over further
east. The work of constructing ten miles of new railroad line to tap a belt of
timber 20 miles up the Middle Fork was started this week and it is expected that
logging operations will be transferred to that section this fall. The rail line
now extends ten miles north and the extension will be ten miles beyond that.
C.A. McElroy is wood superintendent at Bates
operations, and Damian Gabiola is mill superintendent. In charge of the
timekeepers office is Carl Leishman, with Rosco Johns assisting him – John Day
here: If anyone wants to
forward me newspaper clippings such as this one, feel free to do so. If I get
enough of them, I'll build a separate folder to put them in, so we don't clutter
up this section of the Bates/Austin site. I want to keep it solely for personal
dialogue, because some may not want to read old news clippings along with
personal dialogue from former Bates/Austin-onians. I recently contacted the
Manager of the Blue Mountain Eagle, and they do NOT have old newspaper
clippings on their Internet data base. They are filed in a different manner,
and would require a person to go there and spend a great deal of time searching,
copying, then emailing them to me. The Manager said it would be much easier for
a person to go to the County Library and search for past news clippings from
their microfiche records.
Linda Mathison 01-15-2008:
That's a very intriguing newspaper article!
I knew: Bill
Hiatt (ran the big snowplow and managed the highway department which was
across the street from Blue Mtn. Ranger Station). He was the guy we were so
glad to see on those snowy days, plowing our highway between Bates and
Prairie City. I am sure he had a crew working with him. We always supposed
it was Bill Hiatt behind the wheel. We used to follow the snowplow in our
car, if possible, so as not to slip.
I knew of
Carl Leishman and I knew "Punkie Welch." Wasn't she the daughter?
Roscoe Johns; he was the Clerk in the ranger station. My dad worked at the
John Day Ranger Station (compound) before he was transferred to become the
USFS Ranger at the Blue Mountain Ranger Station.
At some point
we might get the "big picture" of what actually happened on and around Dixie
Mountain from the late 1800's to when the town left and it all returned to a
yes, we surely did know Bill Hiatt. He and his wife, Dutchie, used to
visit our home or we visited their home, and we sometimes had some pie
and ice cream while watching a favorite TV. show, usually Rawhide
or Have Gun will Travel, one of those, on an evening when
we could get together. My mother and Mrs. Hiatt, Dutchie, were
friends. Dutchie developed cancer although almost no one knew it. She
asked my mother if she could please have me accompany her to church on
Sundays. I happily did this. We went to the Pentecostal brown church
that had once been a home but was made into a church. I used to call it
"the Holy Roller church" although maybe it was 7th Day Adventist? I was
13. I played the piano for the church services there for one year.
Georgia Frasier led the service. She always wore black, a long black
dress or a robe, and I think possibly a hat with a veil. She played a
tambourine. I chose the church service music from their hymnals. I
loved the song, "Up from the grave He arose." It would start
softly. "Lo, in the grave He lay, Jesus, my Savior. Waiting the
coming day, Jesus, my Lord." "Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty
triumph o'er His foes, He arose a victor from the dark domain, and He
lives forever with His Saints to reign, He Arose, He Arose, Hallelujah,
Christ Arose." We also sang many favorite hymns from the hymnal. I
remember "Love Lifted Me" was a favorite.
always so very humbled by the people, a small group, who would
steadfastly go to church there on Sunday. I loved them. After about one
year at church services, Dutchie passed away. I am still grateful spending
time in church with Dutchie and those people. What stays with me about
Bates is: although many people might have struggled, there was a
spiritual light. I saw the strength of people who loved the Sabbath.
(As you keep the Sabbath, so will it keep you...)
Rocky Johns, he was a favorite of mine, at the ranger station. He was a
popular clerk. He always welcomed me or other kids who might wander in,
looking for Dad. He had candy in his desk drawer which he would give to
the little kid, Dennis Stull. Dennis was the little brother of John
Quisenberry and Eileen, his sister.
Leishman's Merc, we just loved that store. I liked to look for anything
kids would like, and especially the 45 records that started to show up.
Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini was my first
record from the Merc.
Take care, keep
looking for information, this is very intriguing to me,
I'm the oldest daughter of Almer Olsen. Our family moved
to Bates in 1956, when Dad came to pastor the church there; he pastored for
four years. On the first sunday that we came - before actually deciding to
move there, I was invited by Lenora Rasmussen and Darlene Coalwell to
go for a walk in the afternoon. We walked from the church down to Austin
and back. It's probably close to a mile, so we had plenty of time to visit
and get acquainted. They made us feel so welcome - and it didn't seem so
scary to move to a place where I already knew somebody! Lenora
and Darlene were both in my class. Lenora and I both played piano and sang;
so we did duets several times at church - and at least once at a
baccalaureate of one of the classes ahead of us.
I remember the cold winters - it was not
uncommon to be - 20 to - 40 degrees in the mornings. I tell my friends that
Bates had 3 seasons: July, August, and Winter! We'd stand out on the street
waiting for the school bus, and dance a jig - trying to keep from
freezing. It was also not uncommon to have 20" to 30" of snow. I am
amused that the schools and businesses are closed in the Willamette
Valley of Oregon - with a couple inches of snow! But of course they don't
have the plows and equipment to deal with it.
The bus took us 17 miles each way - up over Dixie Pass
(almost 1 mile high) to high school in Prairie City. With all the stops for
kids along the way, it was almost an hour each way. I remember one time
that our bus driver (the high school science teacher, Mr. Bolen) evidently
miss-judged the amount of gas in the bus. The bus ran out of gas - just as
we were getting to the summit of Dixie. Of course the students were all
cheering! "No School!" WRONG! As a science teacher, Mr. Bolen knew
that gas runs down-hill; so he let gravity pull the bus backwards, while
turning the wheel hard. He kept the wheel turned, and let the momentum
carry the bus until it was headed slightly downhill; then he
restarted the engine (as it now had gas) and backed over the
summit! As I recall, he didn't stop for any kids on the way down the hill
that day - he coasted the whole way to town!
Along with the snow, came sledding! We'd climb the hill
near the church - I'm talking half of the kids in town! We would step
sideways in itty-bitty steps, to pack down the snow, making a sled run -
otherwise the snow was so deep that the sled wouldn't go. Then we'd pile on
the sleds - sometimes more than one of us to a sled - and down the hill we'd
go. I remember Floyd Rasmussen brought a car hood to slide on, once. It
went real fast; but when it hit a stump and stopped suddenly, he got a nasty
gash from the edges. I don't think anyone tried using a hood after that!
We climbed all over the mountains around the town. We'd
key in on the noise from the mill, if we weren't sure of our direction -
that would take us back to town. Sometimes it was fun just to sit on top of
one of the hills, and watch the town go by. Such care-free days! My kids
just can't believe it. They ask "What did you do?" I don't remember
ever being bored! There was a swing built near the water station, across
the paved road from the church. We would hang out there sometimes, and just
visit. I don't remember any vandalism, or trouble. We all had values
instilled into us.
My Dad worked in the woods, in the mill, and on the
pond --- right along with everyone else. Then they found out that he
was a carpenter, so he was put in charge of maintenance of the company
houses - literally every house in town. So he did plumbing
repairs, roof leaks, etc. He really loved Bates. Many times I heard
him say, "I left Bates, but Bates never left me!" He returned to
as many Bates reunions as his health would allow.
The town needed more water, so Dad also "witched" for
water above the highway, in the late 50's. He told them it was "77 feet
down". Sure enough, when they got down to that level, they found
water. And, not only was it water, but it was the artesian well that is
still flowing along the highway - where all the locals stop to fill
their water containers, when they're in that area.
We return to Bates every-other-year, for the
reunion - I think I've only missed one of them over the years. And it's
been nice the last couple of times to have them at the Bates
Hi Norm. I went to school with Floyd and Flora Rasmussen and remember them
well. I still have a Bates Elementary School class picture that includes them
and some of my other classmates.
I read with interest the story about "Bambi", the pet deer that was kept at the
"Y" Junction, because Bambi was brought home by my brother, Dan, after her
mother was killed by a hunter. When she grew so large that we couldn't contain
her, the "Y" Junction owners kept her there. One day she disappeared and I did
not know what happened to her, so when I read the story about how hunters killed
her, even though she had red tags on, I had closure about what happened to that
little deer I loved so well. We still have a photograph of her when she was
living with us.
My family was more familiar with the "Y" Junction, which at that time was owned
by the Imooses, then we were with Bates. We did live on and off at Bates for a
few years in one of the company houses across the meadow from the main part of
town, near the McConnells and Sibleys. My little brother, "Butchie", died while
we were there. My parents then bought a trailer and we moved on the hill above
My Dad, Frank Nielsen, worked as a bulldozer operator for the Hines Lumber
Company; my Mother, Maggie, was a 4-H and Brownie leader; my brother, Dan and I
attended the Bates school. The young people we went to school with were: Floyd
and Flora Rasmussen, Maxine and Gary Ackerson, Nancy and Lois Olson (the
Assembly of God pastor's girls), Cliff, Larry, and Danny Barnhart, Ginger and
Larry Johns, Susan and Mike Bogart, Larry and Myron Losey, Gladys McAllister,
Richard Boyer, Beverly Gates, Stephen Frazier, Ruth Wilkes, Linda Gray, Tommy
Davis, Deloras Allenbaugh, Connie Gause, Lyla Blume, Terry Ewing, and John
Quisenberry (from the Blue Mountain Ranger Station). (It's not that my memory
is that sharp. It's that I recorded the names of most of these students on the
back of the class picture.)
My brother, Dan and I, stumbled onto the old Hobbs Ranch when we were exploring
the woods near the "Y". I never knew the name of it until I read the stories
and letters in the "Bates Memories". At that time the beautiful old house and
barns were still standing. The most scenic meadow I have ever seen is the one
behind the old structures.
Our family and some of our friends, such as the Sibleys, found an abundance of
agates along the Middle Fork of the John Day River and up Camp Creek. Some of
the residents used them to decorate their yards.
A young pastor from Multnomah School of the Bible in
Portland, Oregon by the name of Floyd Moore, began preaching services in the
back room of the school gym (community hall). It was during one of these
services that I accepted the Lord Jesus as my savior. Since we either didn't
have a piano, or no one could play one, my Dad played his ukeline during the
services and I sometimes accompanied him by singing. Mrs. Grames was the Sunday
Pastor Moore went away for awhile and returned with his new
bride, Marion. He and Marion took it good naturedly when someone put their car
up on blocks and removed the tires. Floyd and Marion bought a trailer and moved
near us on the hill along with another Christian couple, Ray and Hazel Ewing.
Our white cat used to visit Floyd and Marion, for a few extra morsels, as it
were, but it returned to us one day with a ring of food coloring around its
tail. We painted a ring of a different color on its tail and sent it back in
their direction. It came back with another colored ring around its tail. This
kept up until we either ran out of food coloring, or tail.
My brother, Dan, and the other boys in the vicinity of the
"Y" built a tree house in the woods. I was the only girl in the area so
occasionally the boys took pity on me and allowed me access to the tree house.
Ray and Hazel Ewing's son, Terry, was my best friend and we
would ride our bikes on the woodland trails and roll tires down the hill. Terry
went into the ministry and was married with children when he died in a mine
accident in Canada. When I went back to the Bates area years later it saddened
me to see the buildings gone and the original "Y" Junction torn down, but when I
walked in the woods near where we lived, I saw an old tire leaning up against a
tree, and a lump rose in my throat. It was as if Terry and I were kids again,
whooping, laughing, and rolling old tires down the hill as we once did.
Our Mom would take us huckleberrying between Dixie Pass and the "Y" so that we
had an ample supply for pies, jelly, and syrup. But, the best harvest we
gleaned in the Bates area were the lifelong friendships with the Sibleys,
Ackersons, Allenbaughs, Fraziers, Moores, Gates, Ewings, and others who were
family friends for years. Bates was congenial for forging lifelong friendships
with the potlucks, picnics, and sledding parties that brought the whole town
together. Surrounded there by Christian neighbors I was spiritually and
emotionally nurtured. It is the one place from my childhood that is the most
precious to me.
When I graduated from high school, I attended - for a time - the same bible
college that Floyd and Marion attended. I was married in 1966 to a born again
Christian by the name of John Goodman and we had one son, Jason Shawn. In about
1973, an independent Baptist Church started in our home in Glendale, Arizona
that later became Greater Phoenix Baptist. John and I divorced in 1993, sadly
something that sometimes happens to Christian couples. I am active in an
independent Baptist Church here in Cheyenne, Wyoming. My brother, Dan, is
retired and living in the Philippines. My Mom, Maggie, died a few years ago,
but my Dad, Frank, is living in Union, Oregon and stays busy playing his unusual
stringed music instruments at concerts in Baker. For quite a few years, Ray and
Hazel Ewing had a ministry of carrying Spanish language bibles into Mexico.
I so enjoyed reading the letters and stories about the Bates
area. I sincerely hope that more people who lived there will contribute to the
wealth of stories that already exist.
remember an incident that occurred on Unity Lake when I was about 14 or 15 years
old. A cousin of mine, Jane Anne, and her husband met the family at Unity Lake
one hot Saturday afternoon. Jane Anne wanted Dad to teach her how to ski and
Dad was more than happy to oblige. She got up for a few seconds and then fell.
Dad circled her with the rope dragging behind the boat and told her to grab the
rope and when the rope was taut to holler "HIT IT!" Well, we hear the words
"HIT IT!" and Dad shoved the coal to the old Evinrude. I looked in back of
the boat and no Jane Anne ... just circular rings and a big bubble ... a big
bubble where she used
seems that when my cousin grabbed the rope, she put it over her head thereby
causing a half-hitch noose around her neck. When she saw the rope go slightly
taut........well, she yelled, "HIT IT!" and basically the power of the boat and
tight rope caused her to corkscrew about four to five feet under the water.
When she finally emerged, she had neck burns and the top of her bathing suit was
torn off. Yes, torn off, and the upper anatomy was floating about for all to
see!! She began to cuss my Dad over and over.....emphasizing that she would
never do this sort of insane thing again. Over the years, she came to our house
quite often so I assume she eventually forgave Dad. According to my Mother, she
never tried skiing again and forbid her kids to partake in the sport.
Mathison: 07-24-07: My sister, Julie
(Gjertson) Thomas and I, attended grade school at Bates, from 1956 to around
1963. We lived at Blue Mountain Ranger Station, two miles away, and had to ride
to school. My sister remembers Mrs. Koberneck, in first grade, who would slam a
ruler on her desk to get everyone's attention. I remember Mrs. Benson, third
and fourth grade teacher, who played piano to start the day. Our most
remembered song was: "Up we go into the wild, blue yonder." (Air Force.)
At recess we loved to play in the adjacent field
outside school. Boys would scare girls with frogs from the ditch. I remember
music class - "Special Requests." This is where anyone could raise their hand
and request someone to sing in front of the class. My song was: "The Wayward
Wind." I can still sing this and gasp for breath. Mick Watterson was very
famous for "Blue Swede Shoes." Also, Frances and Phronsie Raines could
sing, "I Love Little Willie, I Do, Ma Ma." I still sing this. Singing
was great, and I liked: "Comin' Around the Mountain, When She Comes, Toot
Other memories that come to mind: Desks welded
together all in a row, and ink wells with real ink pens for the penmanship. I
enjoyed Mrs. Polly's fifth and sixth grade room. Boys and girls started to date
around that age. I think we bought either blue or red scarves from the Bates
Mercantile store and the boy would wear the scarf if dating the girl. One day
some boy asked me to dance and I slapped him, as I had seen this in a movie
somewhere. I surprised both of us! We were very embarrassed and didn't ever
Yet then we went into Mister Cardwell's seventh and
eighth grade. At this age, we had sock hops on Friday evenings in the gymnasium
with a record player on the stage, and 45 records we had bought from the Bates
Mercantile. My first record was: "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot
Bikini" -- the 45's were cheap and sung by imitators of the real singers,
but what did we know? They were proof of rock 'n roll existing in
I remember going to the dances. There was not
enough boys to go around, so girls danced together. Oh that Alice ... Alice
Vincent; Nancy Workman; Carol Reid; ... such delightful, fun classmates;
others. After dancing, one of the parents who sponsored sock hops would feed us
a cupcake and Cool Aid in the church part of the building behind the stage. It
In that very same alcove, I attended church. I must
have gotten saved about 10 times in the kitchen! We had to go in there so it
would be private. Then we would be escorted onto the stage where the pastor
would explain that now we were in the Lamb's Book of Life. I was very
impressed. I also played piano for this church, and for the church in the brown
house on the hill. I began playing at age 13 and decided to create a music
program. We had just a few faithful. I loved fast songs and liked to see
anything that would make them jump up. Such power. I still love country gospel
hymns and I always play this at home if I need music.
I remember the love of the teachers for the
students (most of the time) and the attention and care we were given. I
especially remember the Christmas program in the community hall (gym), with
first the manger scene. We had a little play about it. I remember being the
angel once. I still remember that speech. Everyone got to play a part if
possible, and rotate it. We sang religious Christmas songs. Then we sang
popular Christmas songs. It didn't hurt, blending the two together that way.
At the end, one of the Bates' dads would come into the gymnasium dressed like
Santa, bringing those red net stockings that held candy, giving one to
Winters were cold around there, but the community
was warm. We would go home to our house where we got T.V. on two stations via a
television antenna. If the picture was too snowy, we suggested to our father
that he would climb on the roof and turn the antenna until the picture got
I did a lot of hiking around where I lived and
loved Clear Creek, with its little baby rainbow trout. I found a bog where
"spring peepers" lived. My sister and I would creep over there in the spring,
in the evening, listen to the peepers -- little tree frogs. If they heard any
noise, they would all shut up. Slowly then they would peep, till' all were a
I also found a mesmerizing beaver dam, watching
beavers falling trees. Surprisingly, I found a deer trail that led me to the
road that went to Bates so I would walk around quite a distance to get there.
The woods were beautiful, and the air was clean.
I remember where we lived; our house always got
some black ice on the stairs to our front porch during the winter's bad
weather. My sister and I would be dressed for school and come marching out of
the front door with our books and lunch boxes; take one step on the stairs, and
fall backwards and slide into the snow bank. Of course this knocked all the
stuff out of the lunchbox! Then we would crawl around and look down the street
and see John Quisenberry come out of his house, slip on the steps and slide into
the snow bank too. So Funny!
I remember Mister Bolen and the school bus taking
the 9-12th graders over Dixie Pass to school at Prairie City. The bus was
always warmed up good before kids got in it. We were a happy bunch and often
would sing together. I remember the road so clearly that I even sometimes dream
Freshmen were hazed at Prairie City and I
remember wearing long johns and a bathing suit. The Freshmen had to do whatever
the Seniors wanted. Finally we got that over with and then we were launched
into high school. It was bliss. I was a Panther. I wrote a newspaper column:
"The Panther Purr." Great days - such precious memories.
Hello to classmates; bless you all!
Linda (Gjertson) Mathison
07-07-07: I was surprised to find this Bates-Austin site on the
internet and recognize quite a few names from the stories contained within.
During the time I lived in Bates I was known as Duane
Rood, or "Little Rood," since I had an older brother, Richard.
We moved to Bates in 1956. I have lived in small logging
towns all over eastern Oregon, and this one appeared no different, other
than being a little more remote. My folks worked for Henry Ricco, who owned
about a four thousand acre summer ranch, of which about 700 - 800 acres were
irrigatable. During the summer months, Henry ran about 400 - 500 cows and
calves on this acreage. Al Rood, my step-dad -- his job was to irrigate the
meadows from one of four main ditches which were fed from the Middle Fork of
the John Day river and ran down both sides of the valley. I spent many
hours walking those ditches plugging up squirrel holes. During the winter
months, the livestock was trucked down to Prairie City to Henry's main
ranch. My step-dad would drive down there each day to help feed.
Once I got to know the kids in Bates, I really enjoyed
living in this area. We lived in what was called the "Old Austin House."
At one time, back in the late 1800's, it was a hotel and stagecoach stop.
Henry bulldozed down most of the "hotel" wing and made it a single family
We found several postcards in the old and original
roll top desk that showed a stagecoach loaded with passengers and their
luggage out in front. Two books (volumes) of the hotel register were still
in this desk, and my mom, Norma Rood, had sorted out the ones she could read
and found almost every country in the world represented. Henry didn’t care
about this kind of stuff so Mom donated it to the museum in Prairie City. I
don’t remember the dates included in these old registers.
Other out-buildings were the woodshed; and old log
structure that appears in many ghost town books; the garage and work shop,
which at one time was the Austin store; and the railroad crew house, a
two-story, eight room structure out behind our house. Down the road a
little bit was the barn, a rather large one that has stood the test of time
and still stands.
Our house was about a mile out of the town of Bates, and
I think I walked and biked that road way too many times. We did not have TV
and I would go down to Bates to visit friends that did have TV. I probably
wore out my welcome more that once, but nothing was ever said. One night
after watching a rather scary movie, I was walking home and looking out for
whatever was out there. I started jogging to shorten the period of danger.
As I jogged by some cows, they spooked and took off at a run. Not realizing
what was happening, I kicked it into high gear and made record time to home.
I went to the eight grade in Bates. As many others have
mentioned, I too enjoyed the lessons taught by Mr. Arthur Cardwell, although
at the time I probably didn’t realize it. Especially the time I was with a
group of other kids who must of thought soaping the school house windows
would be fun. Well, Mr. Cardwell was inside the building with a flashlight
and I thought it was just a reflection of a light held by one of the other
kids. WRONG! The next day when we were cleaning all of the windows of the
school, we decided how wrong we were!
Mr. Cardwell was a very positive influence on my
life. I attended all four years of high school in Prairie City and will
always remember the many times we were bussed over the Dixie Pass.
Growing up in a small town like this, one enjoys many
freedoms that I suppose other kids in larger towns would never know. My
folks never worried when I took off fishing most of the day. I always
brought home a mess of trout, albeit small ones. From many borrowed and old
forgotten bikes, I was always able to make my transportation. The hardest
part about putting together a bike was getting the tires, tubes, and the
gooseneck bolt for the handle bars. My folks didn’t have any extra money
for such stuff, and I had to hunt around for what I could find.
Another nice memory of my time at Bates was to hunt.
You only had to step across the back lawn fence and you were likely to see
deer. Maybe a little out of season, but success was a little better then.
I played sports in high school and remember riding the
athletic bus from Prairie City to Bates. The bus driver, who was usually
just another student that live in Prairie City, was eager to get back home
and would just drop us all off at Bates and I had to walk the mile to my
house. It was not too bad in fall and spring, but ohhhh ... those cold
winter months. It was damn cold at times, but I was not about to give up
basketball. I graduated from Prairie City High in 1961.
Since we always had horses at the ranch, we would often
ride down into Bates to pickup the mail or get a few groceries at Leishman's
grocery store. Back then we could just sign our name to a running ledger
for groceries needed and then once a month on payday, pay off the tab we had
run up. I had a job for a short time delivering newspapers around Bates. I
would always pickup my papers in the back of Leishman's store and then make
the rounds, probably about 30 or 40 customers. Well, the boxes of candy
bars were also kept in the this back room. I was tempted, and one day when
no one was about, I took a box of 24 Hershey bars with nuts and stuck them
in my newspaper bag. I had to finished them off before I got home. I was
one sick puppy by the time I got home. It was a lesson learned the hard
I am glad that I had the opportunity to grow up in a
small town like this. There were many things we missed that we didn’t even
know we were missing, but we had a life style that was envied by many. I
know I sure look back at all of the small towns that we lived in, and
wouldn't trade those experiences for anything. We made our own fun back
then. I am thinking of so many other stories and exciting times that I
could tell about. Maybe later in another e-mail.
4355 Mustang Dr
Mick L. Watterson:
06-06-07: I just read your post, Leonard. Excellent! Sure brought back
some memories…..like the 25 cent haircut at Art & Louise’s row house. I
remember the sparsely furnished house, the school clock that continually ticked
in the kitchen, and the sour dough crock that sat next to the sink on the
kitchen counter. Moreover, and for some odd reason, I remember the smell of
sauerkraut and Louise sweeping the floor with an old bristle broom. Lastly, I
certainly remember Art’s brown suspenders. Art was into suspenders long before
As I begin to write a few chapters in this continuing
Book of Bates/Austin, I would be remiss if I didn't pay tribute to my
father, Art Cardwell. I am proud to say that I feel no one was more
respected in our years there than "Mr. Cardwell."
Dad and my mother, Louise, first came to the area in
September 1925, from Long Creek. Dad had been asked to become the principal
at the school as no one could keep order. He taught 6th, 7th and 8th
grades. His biggest challenge, as he told me, was that some of the 8th
grade boys were big enough to whip the teacher. He told me it didn't take
long to be challenged and "The War" was on. It was short lived as he was a
bull of a man and could out run and catch them with his strap as needed.
Things settled down; however, for some reason,
something happened and he quit the school in 1935 (mid-year) and moved back
to Long Creek. He taught school in Fox, Oregon, halfway through 1935 and
then through 1936. In 1937 he moved back to Austin.
He and Mother lived in an addition on the old school
for some time. I was born that year in November and began my life with them
at the old Austin School. Dad taught in Bates/Austin until 1946, when he
was hired to be the principal at John Day. After this one year he was asked
to return to Austin. We moved to a row house at Bates, never moving again.
Dad continued to teach students until he retired in
1963. He said that the third generation of some families had started and it
was time to go. The folks moved to the Woodburn Senior Estates in Woodburn,
Oregon where they lived until mother's death. Dad had lost his sight, so he
moved in with us until he passed away.
A fond memory was that I was able to take him back to
two Bates/Austin Reunions held at Deerhorn Campground. What an awesome
sight to see so many of his students lined up to shake his hand. He
couldn't see them, however, but at the sound of their voice and a word or to
about them, he knew them. He had a story to tell each one.
Later when we were alone, he would ask me about some
of them, wondering what they looked like. He would say " They all were GOOD
kids," and he was proud of them all and their families.
I will leave this Chapter with a article he wrote after
he left Bates:
"A Toast" out of
the gracious hands of time,
we are about to begin another year.
Each of us from day to day, will write upon it's pages clear.
God grant that we may kinder be,
speak less in shame and more in praise;
And by the splendor of our lives,
make it a year of happy days.
To be continued ...
02-26-07: Been slow getting responses from others so I thought I'd share
another "Bates Story."
I receive an email from my son's wife, Ellen, yesterday.
Brian and Ellen Rasmussen live in Chicago, Illinois with our three grandsons,
William, Gabriel, & Collin. It read:
Hey everyone! I
just wanted to share a small part of my day with you. Sometimes while doing
work around the house I end up not being in exactly the same place as one or
all of our children; today that means Colin. I was upstairs quickly doing
something while he was downstairs watching a favorite show. Perfectly
fine! It was just for a minute …. When I returned I found that my sweet
son had raided the pantry, a favorite pastime of his even while I am
standing right there. I should have known! In his mouth and all over the
floor and couch were dozens of chocolate covered coffee beans. The package
was emptied and tossed on the floor. As soon as he saw me he ran away,
realizing his error. I have no idea how many he actually ate, but I am
wondering if he will be able to take a nap this afternoon! Have a great
day! -- Ellen
I wrote Ellen back
this reply, which is my "Bates Story:"
When I was
about five years old, a friend (whose name I've forgotten unfortunately)
and I stole a bunch of Ex-Lax out of someone's car. We just thought it
was chocolate; didn't have a CLUE! For whatever reason (it probably was
GOD protecting us) ... we didn't swallow any of the "candy." I can't
tell you why we didn't; we just didn't. BUT ... we would chew it some,
then spit it out, leaving a trail like Hansome and Gristle (sp?) with
their bread crumbs.
got wind that much of the entire TOWN was out looking for us and we were
certain we were in BIG TROUBLE for stealing someone's candy with so many
people looking for us!
So ... we
hid under my house. Under our house was nothing but darkness, dirt,
bugs - mostly spiders - and of course, goblins. We figured no one would
come looking for us under THERE!
meticulously following out "chocolate drop" trail, they found our
hideout. However, we were so scared that we were going to be hung on
the gallows at high noon that we would not come out, no matter how much
coaxing came from them.
too funny is that they were so worried about he and I dying (from the
"runs" I'm assuming!) that they had the entire SCHOOL out on a manhunt
for us as well as every available adult! With that big of a swarm, we
were convinced that would probably even string us up by the FEET on the
gallows at high noon, showing no mercy!
kept yelling under the house that they were only concerned about our
safety, and we KNEW they had to be lying once they tried that ploy.
remember now how they managed to talk us out of there: probably was
getting near supper time and we hadn't eaten since breakfast. That is
an eternity for a young boy, right?!
this little story is what prompted me to write what I wrote to you
yesterday, Ellen. Keep the laxatives and the chocolate coffee beans
locked up! -- Norm
If there are any class reunions
planned at Prairie City, would someone please send details, so they can be
posted here? Thanks!
In recent communication with Mick Watterson, he brought up
something that I think should be posted here. Why isn't there some sort of
memorial marker - sign - SOMETHING ... that lets people know where Bates used to
be? Maybe the Country or State would put up some sort of memorial
marker - sign; etc., -- if someone would take it upon themselves to contact the
Here is a newspaper Bates-related article that lends itself
strongly to what Mick addresses:
-- Norm R.
Mick L. Watterson: 12-21-06:
Below is an abbreviated list of my memories of Bates. I left Bates in the
Fall of 1965.
- I remember the smell of
Ponderosa Pine. I especially remember the popping sound of lumber as it was
being stacked at the Green chain. You could hear the popping sound from the
- The Bates store was
special; where else could you find a beer hall, butcher shop, post office
and general merchandise under one roof? Where else would you find a
proprietor as fair and nice as Carl Leishman?
- How about the winters. I
remember the snow caves, twenty below mornings and the bus ride to high
school in Prairie City. Poor old bus didn’t warn up until we arrived at the
Golden West Motel stop.
- I remember paydays. The
population dropped dramatically in Bates as hard-working Bates folks took
their kids and funds and headed to the big cities of Baker and John Day.
- I remember the Bates
girls…..very pretty, very smart, and mostly intolerant of those rowdy Bates
- The Bates school and Art
Cardwell. You were going to learn whether you wanted to or not. I remember
Art making me sit under the school clock in the hallway one afternoon for
throwing a spit ball at Carol Reid. I think all the boys in Bates had a
crush on Carol at one time or another.
- Who can forget the Bates
Community Hall? I remember the grade school dances, ham feeds, Christmas
concerts and basketball games. And who can forget when our parents would go
to the New Years dance at the Bates Hall. I consider it prudent not to go
into detail here. Suffice to say that some friendships suffered as a result
of the gala festivities.
- I remember hunting season
in October. I loved the fresh deer steaks….deer steaks with Mom’s brown
gravy and pancakes. I can still taste the Elk roast in November.
These are just a few of my memories of
Bates. I’ll always remember the people…people who taught me honesty,
friendship, and the value of hard work.
Mick's email is:
Norm Rasmussen -
November 2006: My wife and I made a spontaneous visit to Grant Country
to attend the funeral of my brother-in-law, Jerry Cheadle. Regrettably, there
were many friends I was not able to visit with during our stay, mainly because I
wanted to spend as much time as I could with my father, Ray Rasmussen, after the
funeral. At his age of 102, there won't be many times left to do so. However,
I did somehow manage to catch the spirit of adventure that blows through Grant
County at some of the strangest times, and if you are interested in reading
about my delightful little hike into
Slide Lake during an
early November snowstorm, you can click on the link.
While out there, I was able to visit with Chet and Carol
Johns a short while, who are still living in Bates. Chet is 91, and Carol is
87, I believe. Two of the finest people I have ever met. (Can anyone tell us
if it is THIS couple Dave Connolly writes about in his
Vinegar Hill encounter?) I was on
my way over to Baker to see if I could find Gary Johns, their son, to see if he
would grant me permission to publish Sonja's book here on the Internet, and it
so happened that Gary popped in only minutes after I arrived there. What a
delightful surprise! He was on his way over to Prairie.
Lee Siegrist: 05-08-2006:
We never met, but I knew your brother Dale; he was a couple of years older
than myself. The story about your hunting trips with your father brought back a
ton of memories from Bates. My family moved there in 1962. I was in the second
grade. I remember the Cardwell Elementary School just like it was yesterday. My
daughters actually attended the same school building after it was moved to
Prairie City behind the High School. Thanks for posting these stories on the
internet, and God bless.
Hello Norman! My name is Chester (Chet)
Willis. I used the last name of my step dad, (Brosig) while I lived in Bates.
I was one year ahead of you in school. I read with interest your story on the
Internet of hunting with your dad in 1957. (Tribute
To A Hunter). I attended the Bates reunion this last summer (2005) and
visited some with your dad and your older brother Floyd.
I too got my 50-cent haircuts from Mr.
Cardwell. Yes, he was exceptional. When he left the room, Tip Frazier and I
would grab yardsticks and sword fight and somehow he always knew. I also
visited Mr. Cardwell in his late years at Leonard Cardwell’s in Woodburn. The
man remembered many he had taught over the years and there were many who looked
him up long after school. What an impression he left on all of us. I was in
the 8th grade class that went to Prairie City so I only had the opportunity to
learn from him just one year.
I really enjoyed the 2005 reunion, although the
only one there that I ran around with some was Gunther Clark. Charlie Workman
still lives there but didn't come down to the reunion, although his sister
GeorgeAnne did. I did visit Charlie at his home.
I live in Shedd, Oregon, which is 15 miles
south of Albany, so I have been back to Bates many times and have kept contact
with Charlie all along. My cousin, Roger Derrick, who has always lived in
Unity, works with Charlie at the highway department and I visit him also.
You remember Raymond Brooks. I used to run
around with Raymond and Jim Combs a lot when I lived at Bates. I thought you
went hunting with us once with Billy Campbell. Bill used to drive over a lot
and we would either take his car or Jim's. One of them (I don’t remember which
one) had no brakes and we would run into a bank to slow it down. The good Lord
had to be watching down on us in those days because I have no idea how we
I remember once Jim talked me into trading
rifles and after just a few minutes I realized why. Jim's rifle was a
30-40 Craig and was extremely heavy. My rifle was a 30-30 Marlin - much
As for me, my folks moved from Bates just
before my senior year of high school and would not allow me to stay with the
Workman’s to finish school.
I never fit in at Santiam in Mill City. They
refereed to me as the hillbilly, although I still don’t know how they thought
they were any better. Like at Bates, most of the kids were children of loggers
and mill workers.
My soul however has never left Eastern Oregon.
As a child we moved back and forth between Unity, Bates, and Prairie City. That
did leave me with and advantage because I went to grade school in all three
places so I knew most of the kids.
I knew most of the people in Bates because I
shared the Oregonian paper route with Charlie Workman. Don Sterling and Mike
Biedesello shared the Oregon Journal.
When we first moved to Bates we lived in
Knuteville between Rod Frazier and Merlin Vasbinder. We later moved down on the
back road by the river next to Larry McGinnis. I used to take care of Larry's
wood and he paid me $5 a week year-round for doing so. I had to get up early in
the morning when it was cold and start the fire so I probably earned every
I can probably recall about every waking minute
I spent in Bates because it was the greatest place I ever lived. I got my first
gun, a .22 rifle when I was 11. I wrecked Rod Frazier’s Buick when I was 12,
and he still let me drive it after that. I remember selling shiners to Mr.
Bolin for a dollar for a coffee can full. I have wonderful memories that would
take a long book to record …
Chet's email is:
12-04-05: In recent email dialogue with Russ Miles, former resident
of Bates, he brought up the name of Arthur Cardwell, and some hilarious memories
of Mr. Cardwell came up about his giving haircuts on the side. I had totally
forgotten about Art giving haircuts, and when Russ mentioned it, it suddenly
came back! (There’s hope for my aging memory after all!). I’m sure
story after story could be told about getting haircuts by Art, so I’ll tell one
of my own.
First off, I have to mention that I was most likely one of
Art’s worse “thorns in the flesh.” I did not enjoy going to grade
school all that much. There were snowshoe rabbits to hunt in the winter, fish
to catch in the spring and summer, and deer and elk to stalk in the fall … and
none of that could be done in school.
As many former residents of Bates remembers, Art was the
principal of the grade school. He was one strong disciplinarian, and he was
physically strong enough to handle any “rebellious toughy” who dared rebel
against his authority.
Because I was the tallest kid in the 6th grade
class, I was set in the very back so other classmates wouldn’t have to try to
see over my head. We were allowed to put together a puzzle on a table in the
back of the room during class breaks, and I loved doing that. To this day, I
don’t know if Art ordered my teacher to sit me near the table the puzzle
pieces were on ... just because he was bored with teaching and needed some
excitement as well ... or things just accidentally worked out that way.
At different times during the school day I would eye pieces
of the puzzle from my desk. When I saw a piece that I was confident would fit,
when the teacher turned her back to the class, I would reach over as quick as I
could and put the piece of the puzzle where it fit, if it did. On occasion she
would catch me at it, but she was very lenient with me as best as I remember.
However, she had a “Sergeant-At-Arms” available to her. His
name was Art.
Art had the most quiet walking shoes in the world. Hunters
would have paid thousands to own Art’s shoes, because is soles just didn’t make
any noise when he would peak through the cracked door that separated the
7-8th grade classroom, where he always taught, and the 5-6th
grade classroom. Art would wait to see me stretching over and putting a piece
of the puzzle in place … then quickly sneak up behind me and grab me by the
shoulders and start shaking the ever- living boredom out of me. I’m not
exaggerating. If you had a loose tooth, it most likely would have fallen out.
Those shakings sometimes triggered California earthquakes, I declare!
After a bone-jarring shaking, I would stay patient for a few
days, then temptation would knock and I would buckle. Puzzles can never be put
together quickly enough at recess time. Time after time, you could feel a 7.9
Bates earthquake on the Art Cardwell Scale, as Art would catch me, and shake me
a little harder than the time before, to try to get me to behave.
To this day, I believe I have eyesight behind my head …
developed during the 6th grade. I would wait for that door to open a
tiny crack, and then I would be the best student in the class, eyes glued on the
desk or the teacher. It must have spoiled his moment time and time again, at
least I was hoping.
Eventually it became a duel of wits, I think. At times Art
would be so upset at me for continuing to sneak working on that puzzle during
class that I would be set out in the hallway as punishment, desk and all. That
was almost prison in a way, but yet it gave me the opportunity to get out of
class, so that was a huge positive. Anything closer to the outside schoolhouse
door was better than nothing, I figured.
Art never lost a “duel” that I’m aware of, and he certainly
didn’t lose the one between him and I. Here’s how he won.
I quit putting pieces of the puzzle together before the end
of the school year in the 6th grade … because something else
was happening. When I would go to his house for a haircut after class, I began
to have fear come upon me that while I was in the barber seat with my back to
him, he might grab hold of my shoulders and start shaking the hair out of
my scalp instead of cutting it.
No kidding. I started have nightmares about him doing that
to me. After those nightmares, I became almost paranoid that is was going to
really happen, although it never did.
Nevertheless … my fear of Art taking advantage of me in his
barber seat was what caused me to start behaving by the time I graduated from
the 6th grade class.
Years later I was out to Oregon from Michigan to visit my
family. I was visiting my sister, Yvonne, in Salem, and found out that Art was
still alive, and was living not all that far away. I got his son’s phone
number, which happened to be where Art lived, and arrangements were made for me
to go see him, one last time.
When I saw Art, I almost went into shock. I stood 6”-4” and
he didn’t look to be much more than five and a half feet. He was bent over
considerably. I always held the picture of him in my mind as a giant,
which he was a sturdy man in his prime, and much taller. It had been some 20
years since I had seen him last.
I believe Art was in his 80’s at that time. I don’t remember
the year – somewhere in the 1980’s I believe. He was nearly blind, and couldn’t
see my face very clearly.
When I introduced myself to him, he remembered my name. He
was so delighted that I stopped in. We had usual conversation … he wanting me
to give him an overview of where life had taken me from Bates, and then
the impulse struck me: I wanted to reach up and grab him by the
shoulders and shake the ever-loving tranquility out of him as paybacks!
Just kidding - though the thought ran through my mind, and
when it did, I impulsively asked him if he remembered the puzzle-shaking
episodes, and try as hard as he could, he said he didn’t.
He then followed up with, “I don’t believe I ever had one
student who was a bad kid. All of them were good kids that I remember,
It was such a blessing to hear him say that. I really
believe he meant it.
Art also mentioned that he had kept a diary over the years,
and would have to go back and see if he had written anything about shaking
people during school. I never thought to ask him about it then, but I sure
would like to read that diary now. I'll bet it would be a blessing to
Art "impacted" my life greatly ... perhaps me more
than many others.
Russ Miles: 12-3-05:
By all means, Norm, feel free to link to the stories from off my website. If
they will bless anyone, great: that's why I took the time to write them.
I have learned more from the brief history write-up Sonja
wrote that you reprinted at the top about Bates/Austin than I ever knew.
Thanks! I wish I could get a copy of the book she published, as I know my
brother and sister would like one as well.
You may recall my sister Rita's husband, Gene Larkin.
Gene's mother, Della, and her husband, Earl Raines, bought Austin when I was
in high school. I last went there as a senior, as I recall, to stay at their
Austin house to go deer hunting.
That opening weekend, my Dad and Earl Raines and crazy
cousin Jerry, (recently from Tennessee), went up to - I think it was called
"Desolation" - in a Jeep. In route, 57 head of elk crossed the road right
in front of us. I'll never forget it. Dad said he had never, in all of his
life, seen so many bull elk.
When we arrived at the place Dad wanted to hunt, we each
branched out. I got lucky and shot a forked-horn in the heart. He was
running so fast I found him hanging by his antlers in a tree that stopped
him. Dad got a spike too. As I had brought my girlfriend to Austin with me,
much to the appall of my parents who didn't know I was even coming, I
returned to Portland a hero to my girlfriend, and an embarrassment to my
parents. That was the last deer I ever killed.
published writings - links - about Bates - Austin, Oregon you might be interested in
Growing Up In A Logging Town
Russ Miles (Chapter 1)
Growing Up In A Logging Town
Russ Miles (Chapter 3)
To A Hunter
(Story of Ray Rasmussen)
Reflections On Early Prairie City
By: Inez Blinn Boggs
former Bates-Austin resident)
http://www.thedashmovie.com/ - Len Cardwell forwarded this to
me. It's too precious not to post. TURN UP THE